Just last week, Rolex, Patek Philippe, Chanel, Chopard, and Tudor announced that they will be joining forces to create a new trade show, after Baselworld had to cancel its annual event due to Covid-19 restrictions. Working in collaboration with the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH), the brands are debuting the show in Geneva next year.
Coinciding with Watches & Wonders (a rebrand of Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie or SIHH), which was also cancelled this year, the new spectacle will kick off in April 2021 at Palexpo. The Richemont Group (representing brands such as Panerai and Vacheron Constantin, along with a number of independent labels) is among the participants at Watches & Wonders.
“We need to answer the legitimate needs of our retailers, the clients and the press from around the world,” Thierry Stern, president of Patek Philippe, explained in a letter, “They have to be able to discover the new models from Swiss watchmakers each year, at one time, in one place, and this in the most professional manner possible.” Patek Philippe was a fourth generation watchmaker exhibiting at Baselworld.
Rolex’s CEO Jean-Frédéric Dufour also believes in supporting the watchmaking industry through fairs. “It seemed only natural to create a new event with partners that share our vision and our endless, unwavering support for the Swiss watchmaking sector. This will allow us to present our new watches in line with our needs and expectations, to join forces and better defend the interests of the industry,” he said.
Following the announcement, watch brands belonging to LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (Tag Heuer, Hublot, Zenith, and Bulgari) have followed suit and announced their intent to join the other watchmakers in Geneva next year. “We are facing an opportunity to reinvent the format and content of one of the key moments of our watchmaking year,” said Stéphane Bianchi, chief executive officer of LVMH’s watchmaking division, in a statement, “which represented both a major commercial challenge and a lever of influence for our brands.”
Even though Baselworld has been around for over a century, the timepiece industry (competitors or not) are banding together in a time of extreme adversity to create something equally exciting.