Every spring since 1917 the small town of Basel Switzerland becomes the center of the watch and jewelry industry with Baselworld, the largest and most influential trade-show. Nestled in the section where Switzerland, France and Germany watchmaking centers are close by, Baselworld is one of the largest tradeshows of its kind.  Baselworld comprises of four two-story exhibit halls along with the “palace” and is larger than most metropolitan conference centers.  Last year the show was pushed to April because of even more expansion.

 

Unlike other conference centers when the facility is used for venues with multiple industry showcases throughout the year, the Baselworld facility is only for the watch and jewelry industry. Baselworld is where the watch industry, including Rolex, unveils new models, make press announcements, and set the stage for the following year.

 

For both Rolex fans and dealers in the Rolex industry, Baselworld’s media day is marked on the calendar as the turning point of the year.  Rolex epitomizes the Swiss banking industry’s sense of secrecy and no details are revealed throughout the year.  Unlike many other industries (e.g. Apple), Rolex keeps its plans secret because there are few outside vendors in Rolex’s supply chain to make any leaks. Rolex being a true vertical company, the design and manufacture of its watches is entirely in-house, along with its plans for the future. With Rolex’s bank vault-like secrecy, no one is privy to Rolex’s plans including Rolex dealers. Subsequently, Baselworld’s media day is where the Rolex retail and pre-owned market change because new models are unveiled and the Rolex model food chain is re-ordered. After Baselworld’s media day, what were once the latest models bumps down to second or third generation and watch buyers change their sites to the latest unreleased Rolex models.

 

 

Another dynamic to the buildup of Baselworld’s Rolex media day is whether Rolex will have a banner year for new models. Baselworld in the 1950’s released Rolex classics such as the GMT, Submariner, and Milgauss.  Rolex prides itself on “evolutionary” watch design rather than “revolutionary” and it is rare for a truly new watch being released, but there is always that possibility of that 1950’s surprise as what happened with the SkyDweller in 2011, the DeepSea SeaDweller in 2007, a re-designed SeaDweller along with the 18ct gold cased GMT with a revolutionary bi-colored ceramic red-blue bezel last year.

 

Adding to the anticipation is that this is Rolex’s 100-year anniversary. Rolex has introduced anniversary models in the past, such as the DateJust on Rolex’s 40 anniversary.  Needless to say we’ll all know on Media Day, March 18 For Apple iPhone users, be sure to download Baselworld’s app at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/id839627673  and https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/baselworld-guide-for-watch/id422831657?mt=8

-Sheldon Smith