Baselworld Schnitzel Dinner and Wondering if it Will Ever Happen Again
This year would mark the 10th edition of the 'infamous' schnitzel dinner...
Every year, since my second year attending Baselworld, and always on the Saturday halfway during the 10-day fair, there’s the ‘infamous’ schnitzel dinner. With the current state of Baselworld, Rolex and Patek moving to the Geneva-based fair and leaving behind the Baselworld management, MCH shareholders, exhibiting brands and journalists wondering if we will ever see another edition of this important fair for the watch world, I’m wondering… Tonight would have been the 10th edition of the Schnitzel Dinner where all the cool independent watchmakers and online journalists gather to eat schnitzel and fries and to drink beer, and most importantly, to have a good time. Will there ever be another edition of Schnitzel Dinner?
What is Schnitzel Dinner? Well, let’s go back ten years in time, to a (still) young watch enthusiast who wanted to see the Baselworld fair firsthand. My first-time Baselworld was in 2009. Same goes for Robert-Jan Broer from Fratello Watches, with whom I drove from the Netherlands to Basel. We spend seven or eight nights in the most crappy F1 hotel you can imagine, located just next to the highway, in France close to the Swiss border. But it was affordable and we were on a budget.
A year later Ben Clymer (Hodinkee) and Ariel Adams (aBlogtoWatch) were coming to Basel for their first Baselworld and since we were the online guys (the vast majority of journalists, at that time, were from the print world) we thought it would be a good idea to meet. And so we did. First for some beers and later we moved to this small café/restaurant that was just around the corner from the main Baselworld hall and they served schnitzel and large pints of beer. Bart and Tim Grönefeld joined us, and so did Stepan Sarpaneva, Gerard Nijenbrinks, Bernard Werk (does the name sound familiar?) and if memory serves well, Kees Engelbarts and Peter Speake-Marin also joined us that evening. It all just happened and to me, this was simply brilliant. Going to a watch fair and ‘hanging’ with the cool guys, the watchmakers that you admire and some fellow watch nerds who also started a blog.
Schnitzel dinner remained ‘unbranded’ and always for the sake of nice people spending time with other nice people.
Since all of us enjoyed that evening so much, the next year I organized a similar evening. Again in that same small place, although this time with some more guests. Besides the guys from the previous year, Kari Voutilainen also joined us that night and… well, to be honest, I really don’t know exactly who was and who wasn’t there that year.
Over the years the schnitzel dinner became quite a thing. People started talking about it and it was Charris’ words (Charris is chief communicator at MB&F) that brought back the feeling that I had and I guess many more… Let me quote him: “I remember my first Schnitzel dinner, I think in 2012, about a year after joining MB&F. I couldn’t believe my eyes: assembled in the compact and cosy setting of the restaurant, an absolute dream team of Indie watchmakers and other players from the industry, sharing laughs over beers. There was someone I had been dying to meet in every corner, at every table. An unforgettable moment, which I looked forward to every year – I believe I didn’t miss a single session.”
In 2012 we saw Bart and Tim Grönefeld receiving their Timezone Watch of the Year Award, it’s also where business deals are initiated, it’s where people find a new job, make friends and most important, it’s fun. Every year managing schnitzel dinner’s guest list became harder. Many people wanted to attend, but in the end, there were simply not more than 45 seats.
Max Busser also shared his view on the yearly Schnitzel dinner: “It was one of those rare moments during Baselworld where we could for sure “let our hair down”. A bubble in time where we forgot about orders, business, production issues, etc… Just great watch-loving friends sharing and enjoying a really wonderful moment together. “
I’ve received quite a lot of photos and here’s a small compilation, so you can get a sense of what that evening is all about.
Since Schnitzel Dinner is a gathering of people working in the watch industry, people writing about the watches, and people collecting watches, we always end with an almost ceremonial activity. To many of the guests, this is one of the highlights of the evening… table shot!
I want to thank so many people who have attended “schnitzel blitzel“, as James Thompson aka Black Badger calls it. Many thanks to Max Busser, who is always the first to reply to my email invite for the next Schnitzel Dinner. Many thanks to Bart and Tim Grönefeld for cheering up the evening with their jokes, stories and tricks (Bart and large beer glasses… won’t say more), Kari and Peter and John for sometimes skipping another important meeting on Baselworld’s Saturday evening, so they can attend the schnitzel dinner. I want to thank everyone who attended and made this happening. I know that the guests didn’t come for my speech, as it was probably the shortest speech of the year. They came to have a good time and a laugh, to ‘break’ the intense Baselworld week. Fingers crossed for a next edition of Schnitzel Dinner!
I´ve made sure to not book anything else during Baselworld-Saturday beacause I´d hate to miss the Schnitzel Dinner. Its a wonderful way to relax with friends but also a unique place to meet those who you might not have time to chat with during the rest of the week. The dinner might also spark new projects and collaborations – The Black Damascus by Singer Reimagined would probably not have happened without me and Marco meeting there one year ago.
Thanks for all the years of dinner-coordinating efforts, Frank! The Schnitzel Dinner was, is and will always remain the most memorable part of Baselworld… worth the trip alone next year even if the fair goes belly-up!!!
Great memories, fantastic people. If not in Basel you have to continue this “Schnitzel dinner” tradition in Geneva.
Gotta admit, just shared a tear…
What I miss about Basel the most, except actually being able to be out and travel in these crazy times, are the people. Everyone you mentioned Frank, and everyone else that was there. People – the biggest perk of that job we do, bigger then watches, money and the meaningless rest. Even that Schnitzel, the tubed mayo, of course the beers… Miss you all, and please do keep the Schnitzel- spirit alive. be good.
For me an absolute highlight of Baselworld! I met so many nice people there. Thanks for having me and I’m sure there will be a schnitzelabend again, somewhere somehow 😘
Bummed about the whole situation of not being able to travel, to Switzerland, to meet friends and share amazing stories while creating new memories. And oh yes, watches but that’s not the most important part. Baselworld is my annual trip with Team-Monochrome and a chance to catch up with so many, and meet so many new people. I’m not sure what the future holds in terms of these trips…. time will tell. Stay safe all, hope to be able to see you all again soon.
Absolutely one of the best things about Basel! And thank you so much for all your hard work in organising. Hope we can all share a beer in Geneva next year!
I miss these wonderful moments of conviviality and camaraderie. Thank you for posting this. Incredible memories. Let’s all make some more together in the future!!
Well… If that was the best thing about Basel, I’m sure you’ll get over it. That party is over, it seems.
I won’t repeat myself – you kindly quoted me in the article – but I will repeat my HUGE THANKS to you Frank and your great team. Schnitzel Dinner lives!
Rated 3 Michelin Stars by me myself and I (worth a special journey) This of course has nothing to do with the food and drink but everything with the company and the ambiance. Let’s keep Schnitzelabend alive. Huge thanks for having me Frank & Co!
I’ve only had the privilege to attend once, but man o man what a great night that was! Best of the tradeshow. I really hope it can be had again. Doesn’t matter if Baselworld isn’t there anymore because the spirit lives on.
So be it in Geneva or wherever, I really look forward to attending it again.
Thanks everyone! I’m very much looking forward to seeing you again soon!
The schnitzels were ok (the Swiss haven’t learned you need cheese, ham and pizza sauce on top to complete it), the tap beer was very good, and the conversation stellar – a night of normality and friendship amongst the bling, may it live on in Geneva!
Schnitzel Dinner was definitely something of the best things in Basel. A bounch of great peopels in a interesting Restaurant. Talk and laugh about the same passion and eating a great schnitzel with beer and mayonnaise! I’m sure Geneva wil be an interesting place to keep this tradition alive. Thanks to Frank and the whole team for everything!
Hahaha, Andrew, for next schnitzel dinner, trust me, we won’t be asking any culinary advice to you 😉
Fantastic article, Frank. Thank you very much to you and the Monochrome team for bringing great people together like that. Looking forward to future incarnations of it!
i was looking forward to this year — it would have been my first schnitzel dinner — even though you invited me other years, i was never able to attend. This year i was holding the night!! bummed — but there will be another time …..
How cool is this? That’s quite the crowd. Know hope that the industry, and world, bounces back with new vigor when this is over. Patience will be required…
Schnitzel Dinner encapsulates (present tense deliberate, because it ain’t over yet) the best of this special world that we are privileged to belong to, and that is the friendship we share, via our love of great watchmaking. Every year, that evening was an opportunity to strengthen existing friendships and forge new ones – on a level that is impossible in the rush of appointments (and in a style that the more straight-faced watch brands can only dream of). Because it’s all about the people (not so much the menu or the location) Schnitzel Dinner will surely live on. Meanwhile, massive thanks, Frank and your Gang, for having organising this unmissable date for the past decade! Bravo.