Models present jewellery during a fashion show at the 2019 edition of BaselWorld in Basel, Switzerland, March 21, 2019. The 2019 edition of BaselWorld, the world's biggest annual watch and jewelry fair, opened its doors to the public on Thursday, with exhibitors, show managers and industry experts looking forward to a future-oriented transformation of the show in the digital world. (Xinhua/Xu Jinquan)
BASEL, Switzerland, March 21 (Xinhua) -- The 2019 edition of BaselWorld, the world's biggest annual watch and jewelry fair, opened its doors to the public on Thursday, with exhibitors, show managers and industry experts looking forward to a future-oriented transformation of the show in the digital world.
"BaselWorld is currently undergoing a transformation," said Hans-Kristian Hoejsgaard, interim CEO of the MCH Group which hosts and organizes BaselWorld, at a press conference prior to the opening.
Since 1917, the show has showcased luxury watches, fine jewelry, loose diamonds and gems. But this year, it has begun a series of changes faced with challenges posed by digitalization to both the watchmaking industry and the exhibition sector.
"Our industry is undergoing a radical upheaval due to digitalisation. This is a fact that presents us with completely new challenges," said Michel Loris-Melikoff, managing director of Baselworld.
"Everybody uses their smartphone to make purchases, to book a taxi, to do their banking transactions and, in the end, smartphones also revolutionize fairs and the exhibitions' business," he said.
The initial changes have already been implemented at Baselworld 2019. These included modern communication strategies, strengthening the jewelry sector, and expanding the gastronomic offerings at the show.
Meanwhile, BaselWorld is coordinating its dates with the Geneva watch fair, the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH), starting from next year. It is only the beginning of the comprehensive transformation of BaselWorld that it will undergo from 2020 onwards, according to Melikoff.
Hoejsgaard also confirmed that the changes would combine digital communication with real experiences and encounters. He promised that BaselWorld would be transformed from a classic sales and distribution platform into a future-oriented experience event.
"We listened carefully to the exhibitors and worked with them to develop a vision and concept for BaselWorld 2020 and beyond," Hoejsgaard said.
Swiss Federal President Ueli Maurer, in his speech at the opening ceremony, said that every civilization had begun with trade fairs and markets where opinions and ideas were exchanged as well as knowledge and goods.
"Basel has been such a marketplace for centuries that it stands for growth and further development," because this exchange cannot be reduced to the screen of a smartphone, he said.