The Swiss Economics Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann cut the ribbon for the 40th Baselworld, the world’s leading watch and jewellery show that hosts 1,815 exhibitors from 41 countries. Opened in an optimistic mood, with chiefs from some of the most exclusive brands expecting 2012 to be the most successful year in the history, Baselworld 2012 is going to attract some 100,000 visitors and more than 3,000 media representatives from all around the globe.
“The watchmaking sector is probably a unique case”, said Jacques Duchene, head of the exhibitors’ committee of the Baselworld, commenting the export of the Swiss watchmaking sector which, despite the global economic downturn, reached the record CHF 19.3 billon ($19.9 billion) in 2011, which was an amazing 19.2 percent growth.
The head of the Swiss exhibitors’ committee, Francois Thiebaud, expects that the pace of growth is likely to be slower than in 2011. “If exports reach between 20 and 25 billion francs in 2012, we would be satisfied”, said Thiebaud.
Jean Claude Biver, chairman of Swiss watchmaker Hublot, owned by French luxury giant says: “When you are coming off a record year, you are always optimistic. The Swiss watch industry may not repeat the 20 percent growth it saw last year, but we are still hoping for a growth of 5-7 or 8 percent in 2012 and that would mean yet another record year”.
This optimism is based on growing demands of Asian markets, particularly from China, which has become the biggest market for the luxury watch industry. Swiss exports toAsiaexceeded CHF 10 billion in 2011 and watchmakers believe this trend will continue.