This year's Baselworld fair was one of the busiest on record, with the organiser's reporting of visitor and exhibitor numbers being amply borne out by the experience of being there. Basel is in the middle of a new expansion phase driven almost entirely by the growth in watch brand activity over the last decade - there has been a relentless encroachment by watch brands into parts of the site once strictly reserved for the jewellery and "related industries" and, where this hasn't been possible, into temporary expedients such as the Palace, which is, in reality, a glorified marquee. As if this was not hard enough for Baselworld to deal with, they now need to accommodate areas devoted to LVMH (which now includes Bulgari as well as TAG Heuer) and PPR (which now includes Girard-Perregaux as well as Gucci and Boucheron).
As if that was not enough, 2012 is providing all sorts of stimuli to think on from the Jubilee and the Olympics to the future of the leap-second. Two topics that are high on the list are the question of how we adjust to the fact that seeing a British name on a watch dial is becoming almost commonplace and that the idea of British made watches now seems an inevitable part of the future.
That there is still a long way to go before British watchmaking is established on any scale is made clear both in the adventures of Robert Loomes in his quest to make a purely English watch and in the failure of Britain to celebrate its craft heritage with the same dedication and purpose that, for example, the French and Swiss do, as was illustrated by taking part in the Journées des Métiers d'Art with Vacheron Constantin.
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