Yesterday, eight prominent Swiss brands announced their intention to launch a new, smaller show in the absence of Watches & Wonders (formerly SIHH) and Baselworld, called Geneva Watch Days. This news comes less than a week after organizers from the two shows cancelled their 2020 events due to growing concerns over the spread of the coronavirus, and represents a significant urgency on the part of the participating watch brands and the Geneva government to supplement the lost marketing potential and economic benefit resulting from these cancellations.
The new show will take place during the initial dates of the Watches & Wonders show, from April 26 to April 29, and has been described as “a decentralized and self-managed Multibrand Watch Event [that] will take place in several Geneva high-end hotels.” The final details for what exactly the show will look like, its schedule, specific venues, and many other details are being worked out through a collaborative steering committee composed of the participating brands.
The scaled-down Geneva Watch Days show will include Breitling, Bulgari, Gérald Genta, Girard-Perregaux, MB&F, Ulysse Nardin, De Bethune, and Urwerk, and the organizers for the event have been open about their willingness to add other brands, notably mentioning both Chopard and H. Moser & Cie.
This initiative was first introduced by Jean-Christophe Babin, CEO of Bulgari, whose brand was among the first to cancel its participation in Baselworld 2020, citing fears over the coronavirus. Babin remarked that the event will be geared towards European retailers and media to more easily meet with a collection of prominent Swiss brands. In a press release, the organizers for Geneva Watch Days mentioned the alternative to the show being a series of disparate roadshows scattered across Europe, with an additional impetus for this new event allowing brands, retailers, and media to “[save] a lot of time.”
As the coronavirus threat has only risen in Europe since the initial cancellations of Watches & Wonders and Baselworld late last week, it remains unclear how the Geneva Watch Days event will be safely organized and effectively executed. The steering committee for the event announced that it will “liaise and work closely with the State and City of Geneva and relevant institutions to guarantee the maximum safety and sanitary protection for participants.” Despite the significant challenge posed by both the time frame and virus, the initiative has gained the full support of the Council of State of Geneva, which is warmly welcoming the participating brands for having selected to hold the event in the city.