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The ostentatious oddities of the Baselworld luxury watch fair (pictures)

The ostentatious oddities of the Baselworld luxury watch fair (pictures).

Andrew Lanxon
Andrew is CNET's go-to guy for product coverage and lead photographer for Europe. When not testing the latest phones, he can normally be found with his camera in hand, behind his drums or eating his stash of home-cooked food. Sometimes all at once.
Andrew Lanxon
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1 of 24 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

The Baselworld watch fair is where the world’s premium fashion brands gather together to flaunt their latest lines of expensive watches and jewellery. It’s where you need to go if you want to buy a watch that costs as much as a house.

CNET was on the show floor, taking a look at how the luxury brands are beginning to embrace smart wear. Away from the high profile launches however, Baselworld is littered with weird and sometimes unbelievable sights. This is an industry that’s clearly not short of cash.

I’ve gathered together some of my favourite behind-the-scenes shots, including booths that look like luxury hotels, a host of high-end vehicles and even a personal appearance from Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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2 of 24 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

First up, the conference building itself. It's called the Messe Basel and has at its centre a huge metal circle, under which are various places to get coffee. Looking up, it provides a very striking view.

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3 of 24 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

As is usual for tradeshows, individual brands create their own booths within the conference building walls.

Less usual is the sheer opulence of the vast majority of these booths. These structures are only temporary -- they'll be taken down in a few days when the show ends -- but they look like the outside of Beverly Hills' most exclusive shopping district.

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4 of 24 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

The foyer of a luxury hotel? Nope, another booth.

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5 of 24 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Armani clearly had some concerns about security, so fitted its booth with this vast metallic vault door.

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6 of 24 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Swarovski's booth was every bit as glittery as you'd expect from a brand which sticks its stones to almost anything.

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7 of 24 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

That's not a video display above Breitling's stand -- that's actually a huge tank of real jellyfish.

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8 of 24 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

More fun than fashion, Romaine Jerome's stand featured a ball pit. Sadly, I wasn't allowed in. Spoilsports.

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9 of 24 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

All stands were highly decorated and many featured illustrative items. In Tag Heuer's case, it was Nissan's new Nismo car, ready for its Le Mans debut later this year.

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10 of 24 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Some cars were a little more classic.

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11 of 24 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

And of course no car display would be complete without a Formula 1 vehicle.

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12 of 24 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Or a replica of an orbital shuttle.

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13 of 24 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Given the amount of money changing hands inside, it should come as no surprise that the car park was littered with cars like this Lamborghini Aventador.

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14 of 24 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

A lone Segway scooter, just itching to take someone around the show floor in style. It was snatched away before I even got my chance.

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15 of 24 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Action hero turned California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger showed his face in the halls, possibly shopping for a new timepiece for himself while there.

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16 of 24 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Former Black Eyed Peas star Will.i.am was on-site as well, announcing a partnership with Gucci for an upcoming smartband.

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17 of 24 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Speaking of partnerships, Tag Heuer celebrated its partnership with Google and Intel for a forthcoming Android Wear watch by slicing up this huge wheel of cheese.

The cheese is actually made by Tag Heuer's larger-than-life CEO, who has a herd of 86 dairy cows. He makes cheese for his friends and, apparently, to dish out at press conferences. It was lovely.

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18 of 24 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

I would have loved to climb inside this diving suit and march around the show floor, delighting young and old alike with tales of the deep.

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19 of 24 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

I was joined at the show by CNET's superb senior video producer Marc Ganley. Look how happy he is.

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20 of 24 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Away from the show, the city of Basel is situated around the Rhine river and sits on the border between Switzerland, France and Germany.

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21 of 24 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Apparently it's extremely fashionable to have bunches of lilies hanging from the ceiling.

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22 of 24 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Baselworld has possibly the nicest looking press room I've ever been in. It arcs around the atrium, in front of the lovely big window.

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23 of 24 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Nope, this guy isn't doing medical research in his free time on the stand...

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24 of 24 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

...He's doing incredibly detailed tiny paintings, demonstrating the hand-crafted nature of some of the pricier watches.

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