In some of the biggest news of 2020 for the watch industry, watch brands Rolex, Patek Philippe, Chopard, Chanel and Tudor announce they will be withdrawing from the Baselworld 2021 show. The announcement, although a shock, came as no surprise after open letters between the manufacturers and the MCH Group (Baselworld Fair Management) over the past week highlighted some issues surrounding the organizer’s handling of plans and refunds among other things. So, what does this mean for the future of the watch industry, particularly in regards to events and exhibitions?
Distributed by Rolex, an open letter has been released to say the five leading brands would instead be working with the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH) to create a new event in April 2021. The FHH is also known for organising the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) exhibition considered one of the most prestigious watch events in the industry since it hosts the entire Richemont Group. The SIHH has now been renamed the Watches & Wonders event and its debut was unfortunately cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There have been suggestions, due to overlapping timeframes, that the new event in April 2021 in which Rolex, Patek Philippe, Chopard, Chanel and Tudor will showcase their releases, will be in conjunction with or linked to the Watches & Wonders exhibit.
Earlier in the year, industry giants Breitling also announced their exit from Baselworld and are instead holding their own Breitling Summit event to showcase their newest releases. Bremont are another luxury manufacturer who have taken it upon themselves to host their own event, as the Bremont Townhouse 2019 became their third annual showcase which unveiled some stunning new releases.
Therefore, with so many brands taking it upon themselves to start their own events, will other Baselworld exhibitors be following suit? And if so, could this be the end of large exhibitions like Baselworld? It is difficult to imagine what a potential Baselworld 2021 would look like without the leaders of the industry centre stage, especially when other major brands including the Swatch Group (including the likes of Longines, Tissot, Rado etc) have also not signalled a desire to return. We suppose only time will tell, so stay tuned on Horologii for more information on this story.