Sylvie Ritter, Managing Director, Baselworld


Sophie Doran | March 23, 2011

Sylvie Ritter tells us how Baselworld, the world's premiere jewellery and watch fair, is adapting to an increasingly international audience

Sylvie Ritter tells us how Baselworld, the world’s premiere jewellery and watch fair, is adapting to an increasingly international audience.

Exports of Swiss watches reached $1.56 billion in February 2011, reflecting an 18% increase on an already impressive February 2010. As consumer demand for timepieces shows no signs of slowing down, recent jewellery and timepiece fairs in Hong Kong, Doha and Dubai reported record buyer turnouts and significant increases in representation from Brazil, Russia, India and China. On the eve of Baselworld 2011, Luxury Society sat down with managing director, Sylvie Ritter, to discuss this year’s event and the current watch and jewellery climate.

Whilst Baselworld does not have a pre-registration program for buyers, several countries are in need of a visa for coming to Switzerland, therefore requests for an official invitation letter often indicate the presence of buyers attending from countries such as China, India, Russia and Brazil. "In 2011 we noticed an approximately 40% increase in invitation letters for China and India. For Brazil we recognize an increase of 25 %, while the Russian requests remained as last year” noted Ms Ritter.

“ there will always be a market for independent brands, especially in the watch industry. there are many aficionados who are looking for unique watch pieces. ”

Ms Ritter also reflected that “the number of exhibitors from Asia as well as from Russia has increased, while the European exhibitors have been slightly reduced” over the past fifteen years. As a result, the 2011 event will host "space for country pavilions: our Hall of the Universe. This year we have a major presence in Hall of the Universe of the countries Hong Kong and India.”

Despite this increasing presence, there are no immediate plans to further facilitate these emerging markets with local or partner events. “Baselworld is reflecting the current situation of the industry and therefore the format or marketing strategy will always be adapted to the market, however we are not considering of organizing a second show. Baselworld the World Watch and Jewellery Show, is once a year in spring and perfectly fits into the annual programme of the whole industry. At this event the entire watch and jewellery sector is present.”

This 2011 show expects almost 101,000 visitors from 100 countries, with almost 2000 exhibitors from 45. Exhibitors are represented by a mix of big name jewellery and watch brands such as Cartier, Tag Heuer and Boucheron who will exhibit alongside boutique brands Pierre DeRoche and MB&F;. “At Baselworld we have a very good mixture. The large groups are participating, but also a lot of smaller brands and independent creators will be showcasing their collections.”

Bulgari CEO Francesco Trapani recently remarked that “life will be progressively more difficult for independent brands that are also not large enough, when you don’t have scale, you can win anyhow, but it’s becoming more difficult. You have a handicap.”

However Ms Ritter is confident that all will find their place as the landscape continues to unpredictably change: “Of course it is more difficult for smaller brands to compete with the key players, but I think there will always be a market for smaller and independent brands, especially in the watch industry. There are many aficionados who are looking for unique watch pieces.”

The event will take place over 160,000m2, incorporating six halls and a small palace in Basel, Switzerland. In 2011 Baselworld has launched a free mobile show guide, containing information about the exhibitors, an interactive 3D map, an index of products and Daily News abstracts.

The Baselworld App is available for iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry and other smart phones. To download or find out more, please visit the App Page on the Baselworld website.

Jewellery | Watches