When you think Baselworld you don’t necessarily think pens which is understandable given that Baselworld is marketed as the world’s largest watch fair. In truth Baselworld didn’t really figure that prominently on the circuit for the majority of high-end pen brands either until recently. That’s all changed however and the annual fair has become the destination for luxury pen brands to unveil their latest creations. More on how that came to be after the jump plus a whole lot of gorgeous live shots from this year’s show.
The Baselworld Connection
“Historically, pens have been associated with stationary and not jewellery,” Dante del Vecchio, CEO of Visconti, tells me with a knowing smile. “Events like Frankfurt Paperworld were the place to be for pen brands. There new products would be announced and brands would come to find new clients and distributors.” Cesare Verona of Aurora seems to concur with this view; “A few years ago we used to be only in Frankfurt. Now we’ve switched almost entirely to Basel.”
Although it seems like a recent transition it’s actually something that’s been in the works for quite a while. With the emergence of ‘smart’ technologies the traditional position of pens as writing utensils has been increasingly eroded over the past decade. This has forced many brands to try and reposition pens as luxury accessories, cherished as collectable objects and wonderful examples of craftsmanship and style. “In the 19th century horses were everywhere” explains del Vecchio. “There are still plenty of horses around now, however their primary use is no longer transportation or draft, but rather pleasure. This is where pens will be in ten years I believe.”
With this luxury repositioning in full effect Baselworld has evolved into the main event for the European pen brands. This year’s Fair was markedly different however. The slowdown of the global luxury market has forced many brands to cancel or reduce their Basel presence. Aurora shortened their stay, Montegrappa canceled altogether. As such the only pen brands really exhibiting this year were Visconti, Caran d’Ache and Edelberg.
Interestingly Breguet, the famous Swiss watch maker, also presented a new pen model at Baselworld this year. Could this be in response to the launch of the RMS05 Richard Mille pen you ask? Unlikely, since Breguet has been making pens long before Mr. Mille tried his hand at the concept.
Whilst many brands – both watch and pen alike – sought to in some way reduce the costs associated with having a booth at Basel, Visconti is the only pen brand which went the other way. The pen maker debuted a spectacular booth rumoured to have costed over half a million pounds to put together.
Overall I would consider Baselworld subdued but still successful from a luxury pen perspective. As you can see in the pictures quite a few interesting new models were introduced and the level of creativity continues to amaze. Which one is your favourite?