Swissmade watches carry a trademark as well as a reputation – the nation is synonymous with quality and craftsmanship when it comes to timepieces. But the rest of the world is not falling behind. Independent watchmakers and designers are producing timeless designs, testing the boundaries and wowing consumers. Baselworld, the internationally renowned watch and jewellery show, is the spotlight. Each year, the titans of the watch world converge on the Swiss city. Its 2018 instalment attracted more than 106,000 visitors from over 100 countries, travelling to view timepieces from more than 1,000 exhibitors. This year’s show takes place from March 21-26. With its roots dating back over a century, the fair has retained its initial purpose – to serve as a platform for previews of new timepieces and show-stopping watches. This year has been no different, with many waiting with bated breath for the first look at long-awaited pieces, including Chopard’s Happy Sport, a re-imagination of the original design featuring an oval face and original Galet bracelet, and the limited-edition Chronoswiss Flying Grand Regulator Skeleton, with its exposed mechanisms paying homage to the Swiss art of horology. But in an ever-changing, globalised landscape, the fair’s new management are not content with the status quo. This year, they have launched a new initiative – its marketing and communications platform – to help increase the exposure of its partnering brands throughout the year, rather than limit it to a fixed-term event. Despite the decision of Swatch group and its brands not to take part this year, Baselworld 2019 still features a strong showing from luxury, world-class brands such as Rolex, TAG Heuer and Patek Philippe. Big name brands aside, the fair also features a strong showing from independent watchmakers in the Les Ateliers hall, including Urwerk, which returns to the fair after an absence of four years. Its co-founder, Felix Baumgartner, recognises the importance of the fair, hailing it “the place to be for independent watchmakers”. In a world where consumer culture is rampant and fast-fashion and online shopping are growing, luxury watches are able to retain their appeal. For Marcus Lehmann, founder of the independent German brand of the same name, a luxury timepiece “is still a highly emotional and tactile product. The touch and feel cannot be experienced […] online”. Not only is Baselworld 2019 conceptually different to its predecessors; its physical presence marks a departure from recent editions. The number of exhibiting watch brands has fallen from 650 to about 500, with the space now occupied by complementary industries and offerings. Jewellery and fashion brands are represented throughout the fair. The Show Plaza will host the opening party. The renewed focus on food and beverage transforms what may once have been seen as a purely perfunctory affair into a luxury experience. Baselworld counts more than 30 bars and restaurants among its partners.