In a rare moment of collaboration for the Swiss watch industry, Baselworld and SIHH, the two major industry fairs, have agreed to synchronize their dates starting in 2020. SIHH will now be held from April 26 to 29 in Geneva and will be followed immediately by Baselworld from April 30 to May 5. This arrangement has been confirmed until 2024.
In a release that arrived this morning, Fabienne Lupo, President and Managing Director of the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie, which organizes SIHH, said: “Our two events have always been different, yet complementary. Resynching with Baselworld will further confirm Switzerland as the foremost destination for watchmaking in the world. This is something we welcome wholeheartedly, as it is in the interests of all.”
Michel Loris-Melikoff, the recently appointed Managing Director of Baselworld, followed by saying, “Baselworld and the SIHH are working for the industry and its clients. We have sought dialogue with the SIHH and together have found a solution, which benefits visitors, the media, and the entire watchmaking industry enormously. This partnership between the two most prominent exhibitions in the industry represents a major breakthrough for the future.”
This announcement comes at a time of relative uncertainty for the two fairs. Baselworld and SIHH have both dealt with a number of prestigious brands dropping from their lineup in recent months. Audemars Piguet and Richard Mille announced their intention to leave SIHH following next month’s 2019 iteration this past September. The Swatch Group, which includes 18 brands of varying market share and price points, announced their surprising departure from Baselworld 2019 over the summer. Things have been relatively quiet from the Swatch Group since CEO Nick Hayek criticized Baselworld’s management in an interview with the Swiss newspaper, Neue Zürcher Zeitung am Sonntag (NZZ) on July 29, 2018, over its unwillingness to accept feedback or direction from the exhibiting brands.
“Unfortunately, we were, once again, presented with a fait accompli,” said Hayek, before adding that “today, everything has become more transparent, faster-paced and more spontaneous”, and that therefore, “traditional watch shows are no longer useful for Swatch”.
Rumors continue to swirl throughout the industry about the Swatch Group’s plans for 2018, and it will be interesting to see if this exercise in synergy from Baselworld and SIHH will entice the conglomerate back into the folds of Baselworld in 2020 or, perhaps, into adding its own separate Swiss showcase during the same timeframe.
Baselworld, which has been the de facto industry showcase since 1917, has traditionally been held over a week in March. SIHH, which was established in 1991 as a competitor to the Basel fair, is currently held during mid-January. The new schedule will allow members of the press, retailers, and, most importantly, collectors, the opportunity to visit the hundreds of exhibiting brands during a single time period rather than split over a few months.
In other event news, WatchTime is expanding its annual event showcase, traditionally held in October in New York City, to Los Angeles starting in May 2019, in addition to the New York date.