TAG Heuer, Hublot, Zenith, Bvlgari, Rolex, Patek Philippe, Tudor, Chanel and Chopard announced they are leaving Baselworld, to take part in a new trade show with the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie. The fair, set to take place in April 2021 at Palexpo in Geneva concurrently with Watches and Wonders, has not been named yet.
“We have taken part in Baselworld since 1939. Unfortunately, given the way the event has evolved and decisions made by the MCH Group, and in spite of the great attachment we had to this watch show, we have decided to withdraw,” explained Jean-Frédéric Dufour, CEO of Rolex and Board Member, Montres Tudor SA, in a statement explaining this development.
Other CEOs also shared their opinion on the matter: “Chopard first exhibited at the Basel fair in 1964 with a stand of some 25 square meters. After careful consideration, our family decided to support the Rolex initiative and retire from Baselworld – a painful decision. The creation of this new watch show in Geneva, in parallel to Watches & Wonders, will allow us to better serve our watchmaking partners and our customers,” said Chopard CEO Karl-Friedrich Scheufele.
Thierry Stern, President, Patek Philippe said: “The decision to leave Baselworld was not an easy one to take for me, being the fourth generation of the Stern family to participate to this traditional yearly event. But life evolves constantly, things change and people change as well, whether it is at the level of those responsible for the watch fair organization, the brands or the clients. We constantly have to adapt ourselves, question what we do, since what was right yesterday may not necessarily be valid today! Today Patek Philippe is not in line with Baselworld’s vision anymore, there have been too many discussions and unsolved problems, trust is no longer present. “
Frédéric Grangier, CEO of Chanel Watches & Fine Jewellery said: “Like its partners, CHANEL shares the same independence and the same desire to protect and promote the values, know-how, utmost quality and precision of Swiss Watchmaking. This initiative marks a key milestone in the history of CHANEL Watchmaking and is part of a long-term strategy, which began with the launch of this activity in 1987. This exhibition will allow us to present all of our new creations in an environment that meets our high-quality standards.”
This new show will be mainly geared towards retailers, the press and VIP customers and might see other brands joining in the near future.
The initiative was welcomed by the FHH and Jérôme Lambert, CEO of the Richemont Group, shared on behalf of the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie Council: “The Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie is delighted to welcome a new salon which will strengthen the historical Watches & Wonders event in Geneva next year in early April.”
Wave 2: LVMH Joins the Movement
The Swiss watch Manufactures of the LVMH Group, including the LVMH Watchmaking Division (TAG Heuer, Hublot and Zenith) and the House of Bvlgari, have also decided to leave Baselworld in favour of the new fair. The LVMH group feels that the departure of Rolex, Patek Philippe, Tudor, Chanel and Chopard has weakened the “Swiss Watchmaking” presence in Basel and will lead to lower attendance.
“We are sorry to have to leave this over hundred-year Baselworld event to which our Maisons have been consistently loyal. It is nonetheless clear that we must respond quickly and make other arrangements. We are facing an opportunity to reinvent the format and content of one of the key moments of our watchmaking year, which represented both a major commercial challenge and a lever of influence for our brands,’ explained Stéphane Bianchi, CEO Watchmaking Division LVMH in a statement.
This announcement will probably be remembered as the day everything shifted for the trade show landscape in Switzerland and worldwide. We will see what the future hold, but things are definitely changing.