March 4, 2022
by Ariel Adams
Until relatively recently, the wristwatch industry had few predictable moments throughout the year when industry members could meet to do business and new products would be released to the public. In 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the two major Swiss watch trade shows — SIHH and Baselworld — took a pause for restructuring and were unable to resume because of pandemic-related event restrictions. Since then, watch brands have scrambled to make sense of the new industry show landscape while peppering the news with new watch releases and sporadic events to meet with clients and colleagues.
Now in 2022, it appears that a renewed sense of structure is returning to the European luxury watch industry, whose de facto epicenter continues to be Geneva, Switzerland. Starting in late March 2022, Watches & Wonders Geneva will open its doors to watch industry professionals, including the aBlogtoWatch team. This is the first major watch trade show to happen since the end of SIHH and Baselworld, but it is not the only instance that watch brands have invited retailers and media to meet with them in Geneva. Spearheaded in large part by Bulgari of LMVH, “Geneva Watch Week” was a less formal gathering of at least a dozen brands that displayed privately across town, during the COVID-19 Pandemic. aBlogtoWatch participated in the event, which was largely devoid of people visiting from outside mainland Europe.
While virtual events and meetings have typified the day-to-day operation of many companies within the watch industry as elsewhere, the industry does seem to have collectively agreed that in-person events are not only very important for business, but investments to rally around once again in 2022 and beyond. This makes sense because, in large ways, the luxury watch industry is a social, celebratory industry and relies on such experiences and events not only to sell products but also to do business.
The landscape of 2022’s Swiss watch trade shows is made up of relatively fresh names. “Watches & Wonders” is not a brand-new name, but it has never before been used to describe an event in Geneva. One new event happening at the same time during Watches & Wonders in Geneva is Times To Watches (that will take place at the Geneva HEAD design school). Watches & Wonders began as a sort of corollary show to SIHH, which held editions in Miami, Florida and in Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Hainan, China. Now, Watches & Wonders as a name will be used across all events run by the organizing body the FHH (Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie), be they in Switzerland or elsewhere.
The Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) traditionally represented brands from the Richemont Group, along with a few other high-end brands that had membership in the FHH, and for a number of years was held in January of each year. SIHH has transformed into Watches & Wonders with new dates at the end of March, going into early April. (These are similar to the dates Baselworld used to be held in the Swiss city of Basel.) Watches & Wonders will continue to be held at Geneva’s Palexpo convention center hall, located adjacent to the Geneva Airport. New for 2022 is a major size expansion of the show which now includes a number of brands who previously displayed at Baselworld. That said, there are still a good deal of companies and even whole luxury groups who do not yet have trade show environment that they plan to participate in. Notable names include Switzerland’s Swatch Group, as well as all three major Japanese watchmakers including Casio, Citizen, and Seiko (outside of Grand Seiko, which will be at Watches & Wonders).
While the last few years have been typified by intermittent watch releases and unpredictable meeting opportunities, it is aBlogtoWatch’s prediction that the coming years will see more order and less chaos on these fronts. Brands will continue to expect media to cover new releases all year long, but product release and meeting events will require more regularity for the myriad of business interests in the watch industry space to have the comfort to invest around. So, what should you expect from Watches & Wonders Geneva 2022?
It would be really easy if the number of brands aBlogtoWatch will meet with in Geneva was limited to those companies exhibiting at Watches & Wonders. In fact, like SIHH week events prior, the city of Geneva will be full of spaces displaying one or more watch brands hopeful to get the attention of retailers, media, and consumers. In addition to Watches & Wonders, there will be at least one additional official trade show event happening at more or less the same time in town. Watches & Wonders will run from March 30 – April 5, 2022 at Palexpo, and nearby in town Time To Watches will run from March 31 – April 3, 2022 at the HEAD design school campus. Furthermore, the smaller, more intimate independent-focused BARTON 7 event will run from March 30 – April 5, 2022 at the eponymous BARTON 7 venue in Geneva.
Watches & Wonders, alone, will have 38 participating brands including important ones previously from Baselworld including Rolex, Patek Philippe, Chopard, Hublot, TAG Heuer, Tudor, and Chanel. The full list of brands exhibiting at Watches & Wonders Geneva 2022 is below:
Time To Watches will include another nearly 30 watch brands including but not limited to: Corum, Sinn, Lous Erard, Reservoir, Chronoswiss, Raketa, Frederic Jouvenot, Pequignet, Perrelet, Vulcain, Anonimo, Milus, Mauron Musy, Klokers, and more. BARTON 7 will showcase a further eight independent brands, including: Singer Reimagined, Bianchet, Blaken, Depancel, Genus, Ikepod, Le Rhone, and Schwarz Etienne. Bulgari is notably absent from the list and will probably hold its own event around town. There are also a number of Geneva-based brands such as MB&F and FP Journe will who probably enjoy their spaces to visitors in town. In all, there will be no fewer than 100 watch brands showing new products in late March 2022 in and around Watches & Wonders 2022 Geneva.
Not really, but here’s what Watches & Wonders has to say about it. According to the show organizers, Watches & Wonders will be a hybrid of a physical and digital show. Watches & Wonders Geneva 2021 was, in fact, a purely digital show that attempted to replace in-person meetings with virtual press conferences and digital media kits. It was the best anyone could do, but few people truly considered it a trade show experience. Given that a number of people around the world will still not be able to physically attend Watches & Wonders Geneva, the show organizers are attempting to put as much of it online as possible in the form of videos, images, interviews, and information. The problem is that, at this point, those are mere promises, and it is challenging to imagine them being truly delivered.
In fact, it has been the traditional role of media such as aBlogtoWatch to digitize the trade show experience for everyone who isn’t able to attend the show. That is not an easy process, and most members of the professional media agree that trade show organizers will still need to rely on invited media such as aBlogtoWatch to properly promote information released at the show to consumers and members of the general public, alike.
It is also interesting to note that Switzerland has recently removed most COVID-19 related “sanitation” rules and that Watches & Wonders will very much operate like traditional trade shows, without masks or other space-occupation limitations. It will be up to individual attendees to decide on their own health risk-mitigation measures. Otherwise, aBlogtoWatch and colleague media expect a relatively similar experience in Geneva to SIHH, albeit it with a lot more brands and during a warmer time of year.
Watches & Wonders does not have any public participation option, even though SIHH used to have “public days” at the end of a few select shows over the years. Baselworld was the exception to the norm, allowing members of the public the option to purchase tickets (not inexpensive) for most days of the event. Time To Watches does have a single public day option on April 3, 2022, with pre-sale tickets costing 50 Swiss Francs each for adults.
It is unknown if other events around Geneva may be open to members of the public, but generally, most events are by appointment only. If you are a brand customer or VIP client, then you will likely have been given an invite to Watches & Wonders or the other events around town in Geneva. For the majority of watch lovers out there, the best way to see the latest watches and novelties at Watches & Wonders Geneva 2022 is via aBlogtoWatch.
The aBlogtoWatch team will be present in Geneva for the full duration of Watches & Wonders Geneva 2022. Our main priority will be to cover all of the exhibitors at the Watches & Wonders event, and then to use any spare time to see who else we can meet with while in Geneva. There is a good chance the aBlogtoWatch team will meet with all of the major brands and even Mr. Jean-Claude Biver, who has some interesting news to share with the wristwatch community.
aBlogtoWatch will cover Watches & Wonders in a few primary ways — first and foremost, the latest watch release news and hands-on coverage of the latest products via posts right here on aBlogtoWatch.com. The @aBlogtoWatch and team member social media handles will be excellent places to see immediate coverage and reactions to the latest products, as well as to get an idea of what being at the show looks and feels like. aBlogtoWatch will also be recording a number of audio interviews on the scene in order to produce a new Spending Time Watches & Wonders Geneva 2022 podcast series that will start to publish in the weeks after the event.
Don’t forget to also check out the aBlogtoWatch YouTube channel for hands-on videos and other presentations of new Watches & Wonders products and personalities. News of fresh products to be released at Watches & Wonders Geneva 2022 will start to drop in the week or so before the show, around March 20. The aBlogtoWatch team will congregate in Switzerland in the days prior to the official start of Watches & Wonders Geneva 2022, which will run from March 30-April 2022. See you there! Follow along with us for the latest watch news and reviews.