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Watches and jewelry

Baselworld follows Watches & Wonders Geneva in pulling world’s largest watches and jewelry show

February 28, 2020

Baselworld last year: The event is the largest watches and jewelry show worldwide. Image credit: Baselworld Baselworld last year: The event is the largest watches and jewelry show worldwide. Image credit: Baselworld


A day after Watches & Wonders Geneva said it was canceling its event, Baselworld followed suit with the Swiss government banning public gatherings of more than 1,000 people through March 15 as a precaution against the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak.

In 24 hours, the luxury watches and jewelry business has lost two shows that bring together watchmakers, jewelers, buyers, retailers, ancillary parts suppliers and the general public. While Watches & Wonders Geneva (formerly SIHH) said it canceled its show, Baselworld opted for the word “postponement” to move its event to Jan. 27 to Feb. 2, 2021.

“We deeply regret having had to postpone the event as planned due to the coronavirus, in full consideration of the needs of the watch and jewelry industry to be able to benefit from the platform to develop their business,” said Michel Loris-Melikoff, managing director of Baselworld, in a statement.

“This decision has been all the more difficult in view of all the positives that have been achieved through listening and dialogue over the last few months, which resulted in new concepts and new solutions, that have attracted exhibitors to return and new ones to sign on,” he said.

“We registered encouraging growth in all sectors: watchmaking, jewelry, the gemstone and pearl trade, as well as in the technical branch.

“By postponing the show to January 2021, we have found a solution that enables the industry and all our customers to avoid losing a full year and at the same time reset their calendars for the beginning of the year, a period that is conductive to the presentation of their new products, new trends and order taking.

“This postponing will also allow Baselworld to continue developing and bringing new formats and solutions as well as improvements to the new concept we propose.”

The Baselworld decision coincides with another Swiss mega event, the Geneva International Motor Show, scratching its event for next week (see story). That move came within 24 hours of Watches & Wonders Geneva’s cancellation (see story).

Attendees at Baselworld 2019. Image credit: Baselworld Attendees at Baselworld 2019. Image credit: Baselworld

Storied brands such as Patek Philippe, Rolex, Chopard, Tag Heuer, Tudor, Hublot, Chanel, Zenith, Graff, Bell & Ross, Carl F. Bucherer, Frederique Constant and Maurice Lacroix were scheduled to exhibit at Baselworld in Basel. Citizen and Bulova had pulled out Feb. 24.

It is interesting to note that Baselworld termed its cancellation as a postponement, which hints that there may be two events next year – or not.

The new Baselworld show will be held Jan. 28 through Feb. 2, 2021, with a press day on Jan. 27.

Baselworld was holding out right till the last minute. Earlier this week, Mr. Loris-Melikoff put out a confident statement saying the show would go on.

“We remain focused on the preparation of the 2020 edition of Baselworld, the set-up schedule remains unchanged, and we are looking forward to unveiling the many new features and new formats we are preparing for the coming show,” Mr. Loris-Melikoff stated Feb. 24.

“As far as the coronavirus is concerned, we are closely monitoring developments with the health authorities,” he said. “We remain extremely attentive on a daily basis. To date, I can confirm that Baselworld will take place as scheduled from 30 April to 5 May 2020.”

That changed Feb. 28 when the Swiss government issued its edict to restrict events to 1,000 people through March 15. Baselworld fell out of the embargo period, but that was not enough.

Following the official ban on large public gatherings meant that Baselworld had to suspend pre-event preparations such as construction in the halls and of the stands that was timed to start week of March 2.

The Forum at Baselworld was planned as a new debating platform for industry insiders to discuss issues facing the watches and jewelry business. Image credit: Baselworld The Forum at Baselworld was planned as a new debating platform for industry insiders to discuss issues facing the watches and jewelry business. Image credit: Baselworld

New forum
The Baselworld organizers have put on a brave face, similar to those who run Watches & Wonders Geneva.

Baselworld has been working on a new format for the content part of its show – The Forum, a compact of 25 debates with 50 executives to has out challenges facing the watches and jewelry business – and also a new mission to serve its audience year-round through digital means. Those concepts were going to be aired at Baselworld 2020.

"Within the process of the last weeks, I was very impressed by the involvement and trust of all our customers, partners, stakeholders and team, to pro-actively find the very best solution in the interests of the industries,” said Bernd Stadlwieser, group CEO of MCH, in a statement.

“By communicating intensively all together, we were able to work on different scenarios and to jointly decide on the very best one,” he said. “I would like to thank everybody for their belief in and commitment to our platform.

“Baselworld is not only the largest watch and jewelry event in the world, but is also destined to become the industry's largest global community platform, active all year round.

“In the coming weeks, we will be presenting a new digital service that is essential and useful to our entire community, and which we trust will meet the needs of the brands that have become even more important in these difficult and turbulent times.”

Preview video of Baselworld 2020, a Swiss watches and jewelry show that was put off due to the coronavirus outbreak