Part two of my Swiss trip for Baselworld
You may remember that we arrived in Zurich in the morning to a beautiful sunny day which we took advantage of, exploring the old town area around the hotel, and of course, taking photos. Day two however was work, as we hadn't been taken half way around the world just to have a good time. A one-hour-plus drive took us to Basel and it was a full day of visits to the booths of and presentations from brands of The Swatch Group. The term 'booths', by the way, don't do justice in describing the stands each brand had erected at Baselworld as many were on two floors and so well decorated you would think they were permanent structures.
First Stop: Glasshutte Original & Blancpain
Welcoming us on behalf of the German watchmaker was Kris Bhimayothin, Thailand representive of the brand, who introduced the Senator’s new lines including the Excellence Perpetual Calendar, Chronograph Panorama Date and Cosmopolite. From there we went on to Blancpain, which had on show some fabulous models, the highlight of which was the limited edition Traditional Chinese Calendar to celebrate the Year of the Dog. While most of the booths offer a little bar or refreshment area, Blancpain boasted a restaurant serving meals by an established chef. The distinction of this eatery was that guests could smoke inside, great for smokers but not so great for those not used to so much smoke.
Next Up: Breguet & Omega
We saw Breguet's latest timepieces including the new Marine models as well as the Classique Tourbillon Extra-Plat, one of the slimmest tourbillons around. Tipanat Lenbury, managing director of The Swatch Group Trading Thailand and brand manager of Omega, joined us at the Omega booth. Each of us was given the opportunity to experience a multi-media room with stunning audio-visual effects before attending the presentation. The brand celebrates 70 years of the Seamaster line with updates including that of the iconic Diver 300M released 25 years ago. Other beautiful models were the Tresor collection for women, Aqua Terra as well as the Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon Apollo 8.
Jaquet Droz & Harry Winston
We had an unplanned stop at Jaquet Droz, which Swatch Thailand is launching in Thailand soon. This 280-year-old brand is known for its timepieces with two counters forming the figure 8 on the dial, plus its automatons involving mechanical figures. Finally, we ended up at Harry Winston, drooling at each of the bejewelled ladies’ watches. That evening, upon our return to Zurich, we decided our trip would not be complete without raclette so found a good place not too far from the hotel. Was really good too.
Day Three: A Visit To The Omega Factory in Bienne
Designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, it was completed last year and is a cutting-edge facility for watch assembly, training and quality control. What is unique is the fully automated storage system that rises three floors in the five-floor building from where technicians can retrieve parts for assembly. It also has a special room where staff from METAS (the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology) conduct Master Chronometer testing and certification for Omega watches. After lunch at the Omega dining room, we visited the museum which traces the history of the brand from its founding in 1848 by Louis Brandt.
Back To Bangkok
All too soon it was time to fly back home, which we did the next day. Since I knew I was going to be met with a hectic schedule back home, I hardly ate anything on the flight and tried to get as much sleep as possible. We arrived back at 4:30 am, an hour before schedule, so I was able to sleep for an hour or so when I got back home, unpacked, showered and was in the office before lunchtime. The afternoon was spent behind closed doors to finalise the work on our upcoming restaurant guide, Thailand Tatler Best Restaurants 2018. In the evening I dropped by the Masterpiece exhibition of Gaysorn Village, which highlighted showpieces from 19 brands in fashion and jewellery. According to Jirath Vattanapataraset of Gaysorn Village, the interactive approach of the exhibition invites guests to engage with the brands featured.
The next day, the only event I was able to squeeze in was a dinner at Gaysorn Crystal Box. COS, Collection of Style, is a British fashion brand that uses natural elements juxtaposed with chic modern features. Working with Hthai as the local distributor, the opening of its first branch was at EmQuartier the following day, to be followed by a second store at Siam Paragon later this month. Flying in for event was Atul Patak, COS head of communications and his team. Unfortunately I could not attend the store opening as I was hard at work preparing for the Clutter Sale on Saturday.
So what is the Clutter Sale?
It is a charity event where those with unwanted items, especially designer label products, can turn them into cash. Held for the 12th year at Anantara Siam, the NewsMakers, of which I am a member, have been organising this day-long affair which features 70 booths selling all kinds of products both used and unused, a charity corner with donaed goods for sale and a raffle. The success of the event is a result of generous donors and this year included Bangkok Airways for two tickets to the Maldives with accommodation at Niyama Private Islands, Turkish Airlines for two tickets to Europe plus ladies like Nishita and Anju Shah, Araya Kanchanapongkula, Buppa Kingchatchaval, Sirikul Opaswongse, Parani Chitrakorn, Lisa King and Pornnapa Chansiri. In all, the Clutter Sale has raised almost eight million baht, the bulk of which has gone to the Cancer Research Centre of Chulalongkorn Hospital.
When Sunday came around, I was totally exhausted. It had been a long and busy week for me. Thank goodness a long weekend is coming up at the end of this week.
(Previously: Naphalai's Diary: March 19-25)