It is perhaps with a tinge of sadness that we can look back at Baselworld in the years to come that the world’s once largest and most influential watch and jewellery fair succumbed to its organiser’s inability to adapt to the evolving needs of its stakeholders and taking them for granted by making unilateral decisions. Watches may be a sentimental purchase to many collectors but as an industry, it is still a business. When these decisions prove detrimental to dollars and cents, it makes better sense to seek a greener pasture.
Although the mass desertion began a couple of years with the number of tenants shrinking on a year-on-year basis, the exodus of the alliance of Rolex, Patek Philippe, Chopard, Chanel and Tudor, as well as LVMH group’s watch brands signalled the fair’s demise at least in significance and scale. Baselworld may still go on, after all it has been held since 1917, but without these anchors, it has no relevance. The Covid-19 pandemic merely hastened the process and likely an irreversible reality.
Watches take months to develop, from design, to prototyping and subsequent production at a larger scale. For Chopard, the process is likely more time-consuming owing to its propensity to use responsibly sourced materials such as precious metals, gemstones and leather. Truly high-end pieces from the award-winning L.U.C collection involve hours of craftsmanship from filling the miniscule pieces down to exact shapes to the assembly of these pieces into a complex movement such as that of a perpetual calendar.
Unlike Rolex and Patek Philippe which have gone public on their intentions of not releasing any novelty this year, by instead, channelling their resources and focus on 2021, Chopard charts ahead with a number of novelties. The maison is sticking to its roadmap instead of relying solely on past catalogues to tide it over until the new watch fair begins in Geneva next year. With this year’s Baselworld postponed till January next year, there is no physical exhibition for these new watches and jewellery. Make no mistake, though, these pieces are Chopard’s Baselworld collection and ones that very well predate the maison’s decision to pull out from Baselworld. However, with the new development, these become its farewell gestures to a romance started in 1964.
In-depth reviews will follow in the months ahead when they hit the boutiques.