Last Friday afternoon Martin and I hopped on a train to Basel for a trip to the Baselworld watch fair. Martin’s new sponsor, Maurice Lacroix, had invited us to attend several events announcing their new line and celebrating their recent design sponsorship with Wallpaper* magazine. Since the events didn’t start until 5:00pm we took advantage of a free Friday afternoon, and a lot of sun, to explore a bit of Basel before heading to the watch fair.
After a quick 53-minute train ride we arrived in Basel around 2:30pm and were met by one our former law school classmates, Natashia, who also recently relocated to Switzerland as her husband accepted an IT position at Novartis. Natashia took us on a walking tour of Basel’s old town, Marktplatz, and Rathaus, before we headed across the Rhine towards Baselworld. Both Martin and I were surprised by the personality of Basel, Switzerland’s only port city. We walked along some narrow streets with inviting little shops and cafes, and the remnants from Basel’s famous Fashnacht festival (confetti-ed streets and mask displays) already have us thinking about a trip back to Basel for more sightseeing.
We arrived at Baselworld around 4:00pm and explored the main watch exhibit space. The sheer size and detail of the “booths” constructed for this one week fair was amazing. The conference space had been turned into a giant mall of watches and it was filled with journalists, buyers, and tourists. Each brand’s storefront had a main floor exhibit space where watches were displayed, and two floors of each space were dedicated to conference rooms and lounge spaces where buyers and retailers from around the world meet with the brand to review the collections.
It was amazing to see so many different watches in one space, from historic Swiss watchmakers to elite fashion watches and to Timex Sport and Juicy Couture offerings. One thing was certain–never have I seen so many diamonds on so many ladies watches. Some were beautiful artistic pieces, my favorite being the floating diamonds of Chopard and the snow setting by Hermes. But I must say, I began to feel that the high-end designs for women focused too much on being bejeweled than just well-designed, classic but modern, and quality.
At 5:00pm we arrived at the Maurice Lacroix booth where we headed to the top floor lounge for drinks and hors d’oeuvres. We mingled with a small group of other friends of the brand from a young kiteboarder/dentist hoping to be the first to cross the Bering Strait by kiteboard to a Zürich-based stylist and an ad man from London. Maurice Lacroix’s head designer showed us the new line of watches. We also had the opportunity to try on the watches made in collaboration with Wallpaper* (three designers have created their own interpretation of Lacroix’s Pontos Décentrique GMT to be auctioned off for charity).
After this we headed to nearby Bar Rouge for the Wallpaper* – Maurice Lacroix design partnership event debuting the watches to a larger audience. We walked our first red carpet and had our picture taken and we did feel a little special. One of Maurice Lacroix’s new slogans is “Never Stop Moving” and it was interesting to see how it was incorporated to the design of the event space, particularly the kinetic art. We enjoyed more appetizers, and an amazing view of Basel, and saw the official debut of the special watches. One of the designers, Patricia Urquiola, is one of my favorite furniture designers so I enjoyed seeing her speak and sharing a dinner table with her later in the evening, although I never worked up the gumption to be more than just a quietly admiring fan.
Dinner later that evening last until midnight and was a four-course affair for 25 closest friends of the brand. Martin and I had the best time meeting and sharing conversation with Wallpaper*’s Publishing Director and a friendly Brit with a small advertising firm in London that developed Maurice Lacroix’s worldwide campaign, “Follow your convictions.” (Frankly, I’m most excited about his invitation to visit London for a shopping trip with his wife, a fashion buyer. I’d like to think it was serious, since he mentioned it multiple times, but Martin isn’t completely convinced.) It was nice to be part of such a small, friendly group, and to see Martin recognized for his dedication to following his convictions. It was a long, interesting, and fun evening.
We got back home around 2:00am and I’m still recovering from staying up too late and using a year’s supply of social energy. Luckily, it was the afternoon English service this week so I had plenty of time to sleep in, and nap, before we went to church.
Hopefully I’ll be ready to adapt to west coast time by Thursday, when I head back for a few weeks in California. It will be nice to have more hours in the day to catch up with all of you though!