Well, in what was sort of unexpected and yet expected at the same time, today the organizers of SIHH and BaselWorld have announced that starting from 2020 the two major watch industry exhibitions will be held in close succession. They will both take place in their traditional Swiss host cities, Geneva for SIHH and Basel for BaselWorld. Dates will be April 25 to April 29 for SIHH 2020 and April 30 to May 5 for BaselWorld 2020.
This announcement comes in the wake of numerous major developments that affected both shows. As we reported back in July, the Swatch Group has shockingly pulled all its brands from BaselWorld with immediate effect, while SIHH has seen the departure of Richard Mille and Audemars Piguet from 2020 onwards.
Now, although we have at the time of Swatch Group’s announcement been optimistic about them returning in the near future, there’s yet more reason for a brighter outlook once we pair the increased gravity of combined show dates with the numerous promising developments that the MCH Group (the organizers of BaselWorld) have finally been keen to introduce from 2019 onwards. Whether or not Swatch Group will want to and/or be able to rejoin the party at a later date, it is perhaps not a stretch to say that literally nobody knows at this point.
Many industry players will agree that the division between the two fairs was originally driven by egotistic motives. And although it could be argued that this is just a cynical way of looking at fierce competition, I think we can all agree that this small, fragile industry is certainly better off if it cares for its integrity when it really matters.
Global luxury watch consumer tastes, distribution tactics and sales networks, as well as individual watch company priorities have been developing and changing as rapidly as global economic situations, leaving watch brands and watch fair organizers with a lot to think about. Audemars Piguet, Richard Mille, and the Swatch Group have, for now, all chosen to go down their own routes, without bringing anyone else along for the ride – whether this ride will be smooth or bumpy we shall see later on, as that truly depends on a million factors both in and out of their control.
The greatest winner of this development should nevertheless be the attendees: having to travel across the world once instead of twice is a huge relief for distributors, brand representatives, regular visitors, as well as us, watch media. Countless BaselWorld exhibitors have also placed tremendous efforts on their presence in Geneva in January during SIHH. It will be one hell of a ride, that’s for sure, but hey, what’s caffeine good for if not times like these?
I am happy to learn about these walls coming down between the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie and the MCH Group, the organizers of SIHH and BaselWorld, respectively. With every positive development I learn about these two fairs concerning their future, I just think to myself “I hope it isn’t too little, too late.” If things keep going this way, and brands do their part as well, then there certainly is reason for hope.
Once again, Baselworld 2020 will be held April 30 to May 5 in Basel, Switzerland, and SIHH 2020 will be held between April 26 to April 29, in Geneva. The two luxury watch fairs have been synchronized until 2024. You can learn more at journal.hautehorlogerie.org.