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Baselworld and the watch industry: A journey in time

Baselworld and the watch industry: A journey in time

You might not know this, which as a watch enthusiast would be strange, but Baselworld is the most prestigious event in the in the watch industry in the world and not because the city of Basel may be one of the richest cultural zones in Switzerland.

The event which takes its name from the city has been the epitome of the watch and jewellery scene for almost 100 years and pulls in industry players, innovators, unparalleled craftsmanship who showcase their work to everyone from press to buyers and more seeking awe and inspiration.

But what was the inspiration behind this event, when did it all start?

Baselworld – Timeline

1917 – Baselworld wasn’t known by the name it has now. The show has its origin at the first Swiss Design Fair Basel (Schweizer Mutermesse Basel - MUBA) in Germany. Watches weren’t the main attraction of the event as the show covered several Swiss industry sectors.

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1931 – With the increase in the number of watch manufacturers, Swiss makers were finally given a dedicated platform, a long way from the catalogues of the past. It became an established Swiss Watch Fair (Schweizer Uhrenmesse) at MUBA. Patek Phillipe made their debut in 1932, two years more and TAG Heuer would come on the scene and it wasn’t until 1939 that Rolex made its first appearance at Baselworld.

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1973 – A year earlier, an European Watch and Clock Exhibition was held in Basel in conjunction with the Swiss Watch Fair. The event would pave way for other European manufacturers; France, Germany, Great Britain and Italy; to show their craft at the first European Watch and Jewellery Show in ’73 (Europäische Uhren und Schmuckmesse – EUSM). A highlight of this event was the debut of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak watch.

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1983 – 10 years forward, this was the first time the name of the city “Basel” was used to denote the event as “Basel 83”.

1986 – Basel 86 heralded the first time exhibitors from outside Europe were admitted to showcase, making the event truly international and solidifying Baselworld as the most important event in the watch industry.

1995 – A new name was adopted “Basel 95 – The World Watch, Clock and Jewellery Show”

1999 – The official opening of a new 387,000 square-foot watch hall (now Hall one) designed to hold three-storey building displays

2003 – A new name and a new brand was given to the event “Baselworld, The World Watch and Jewellery Show”.

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As we pass the clock on the most prestigious event that has been a highlight for some of the most exciting and intriguing watch brands in the past 100 years, one cannot help but appreciate the significance of Baselworld.

This is Baselworld, the greatest watch show on earth.


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