Baselworld 2015: Smartwatches, the Swiss Franc and China's Declining Economic Growth

Baselworld 2015: Smartwatches, the Swiss Franc and China's Declining Economic Growth
From, by Marissa Stempien

Yesterday was the last day of Baselworld and it ended on successful note. Statistics for this year’s event are in, and despite numbers dropping in some areas and spiking in others, it was an exhibition not to be missed. A total of 288 watch brands showed at Baselworld this year, and though there was a three percent drop in the total number of buyers at the show, the media was there in full force with a record-breaking 4,300 representatives, up seven and a half percent from last year.

Baselworld Photo Credit: Tudor

While Baselworld is both a jewelry and watch show, timepieces take the spotlight, and this year has been a successful one for the industry. Since January of this year Swiss watch exports went up by 3.7 percent, before dropping by two percent in February, still leaving them with a small increase, making for a decent first quarter. Overall, the export numbers are one percent higher in comparison to the same time last year.

Baselworld Photo Credit: Patek Philippe

Journalists and media representatives continue to flock to the event year after year due to the increasing popularity of luxury Swiss timepieces, but this year’s surprising influx is likely due to the number of smartwatches that were presented. The Swiss Exhibitors' Committee at Baselworld, believes that “only a dozen or so of the 219 Swiss watch brands came to Baselworld with a smartwatch,” but of course this doesn’t include non-Swiss companies or designer brands that dabble in the watch industry.

BaselworldPhoto Credit: Allegro

In January, the Swiss National Bank announced that it would no longer hold the Swiss Franc at a fixed exchange rate, causing panic in not only the world economy, but among watch collectors and buyers as well. While prices in luxury timepieces haven’t skyrocketed as originally expected, this undoubtedly had an impact on decreased sales at this year’s show. Still, companies are hoping for a great 2015 as they expect “the impact of the strong Swiss Frac [has] been absorbed.” World economics were also reflected in attendance as the number of Russian and Chinese visitors were reduced this year, due, no doubt, partially to China’s declining economic growth and Russia's current political climate.

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