As BaselWorld 2009 prepares to open its doors on Wednesday 26th, Maria Doulton marvels at the architectural bravado of the booths themselves.
Walking through the glass doors from the spring sunshine of the Messeplatz into the cavernous 10m-high main hall of BaselWorld is an overwhelming experience that fails to dull with the years. Flanked by the mighty stone and glass edifices erected by Rolex and Patek Philippe, two titans of the watch world, it is clear that when Switzerland’s finest are putting on a show, the setting is as important as the watches themselves.
A wander around the brand temples confirms that BaselWorld is not just about the watches. It is also a game of architectural bravado, opulence of finishes and originality – all in a flat pack format. The bigger booths can take well over a thousand man days of labour to erect and dismantle. Six weeks lead in time is given by the organisers of BaselWorld to set up the booths.

Basel

See our pick of the most spectacular stands from last year's BaselWorld as shot by Christian Ruggaber
Once the week long show is over, it takes a month to pack up every LED light, renaissance fountain and Barcelona chair that will be put into storage until the following year.
To maintain a brand consistency some booths are designed by the house architect as Peter Marino did for Chanel. The result is all chic glossy white minimalism and dark wood display furniture, much like the maison’s boutiques.
Octavio di Blasi created an avant-garde spiraling, undulating structure for TAG Heuer while others such as such as De Grisogono opt for unrestrained opulence. Its two-floor stand comes complete a façade bejewelled with almost 1,000 brilliant diodes while a waterfall cascades behind the staircase.
Why do the brands go to this expense and trouble? According to TAG Heuer’s CEO Jean-Christophe Babin the Octavio de Blasi-designed 9 meter high behemoth of a stand '…is a living testimony of architectural avant-garde, but it is above all a statement of TAG Heuer’s commitment to the fusion of design and technology, mirroring the unique DNA and identity of TAG Heuer timepieces.'