Uncertainty Looms Over the Industry’s Biggest Trade Fair as Head Nick Hayek says the Most Important Exhibitor Won’t Return.
The news that Swatch Group won’t be returning for Baselworld 2019 has sent shockwaves through the industry.
Chief Executive Nick Hayek says the trade event, previously considered the most important event in watchmaking, “makes no sense” any more. With its 18 brands — including Omega, Longines, Blancpain, Harry Winston, Jaquet Droz, Swatch and Glashütte Original — as well as the manufacturing arm ETA, the group had for years formed the core of the trade fair.
Hayek told the German newspaper NZZ am Sonntag the event and its ilk are “no longer useful” to the group. “Today, everything has become more transparent, faster-paced and more spontaneous”, thus, “traditional watch exhibitions are no longer useful for Swatch”.
The newspaper quotes Hayek saying his company “isn’t there to amortise an expensive room”.
“[Organiser] MCH is too busy optimising and amortising its new building, instead of showing courage to bring about real change.”
There have been calls for a revamp of the show, which dates back to 1917, for years. René Kamm, MCH CEO, even admitted earlier this year, “Because of the internet, Baselworld is no longer the control and communication platform as it used to be.”
Swatch Group’s withdrawal is the latest blow to the event, which has been marred by waning interest over the past couple years. A number of brands have withdrawn from Baselworld, citing expenses and a lack of change by organiser MCH Group. A number of brands, including Girard-Perregaux, Hermès and Ulysse Nardin have exited Baselword in favour of Geneva’s luxury watch show, SIHH.
The 2018 edition was also two days shorter than in previous years.
Amidst the questioning of the relevance of Baselworld, it’s still unclear whether other pillar brands — such as Rolex, Patek Philippe, Chopard and LVMH — will return for the 2019 edition.
Baselworld 2019 is scheduled to take place over six days from Thursday, March 21 to Tuesday, March, 26.
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