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Baselworld “surprised” by major brands joining forces to exit and launch new fair

Visitors are seen during the press day of Baselworld watch and jewellery show on March 22, 2017 in Basel. The world's biggest watch fair will open in Switzerland this week, even as slumping exports of luxury Swiss timepieces appear to dash hopes of a market rebound. / AFP PHOTO / Fabrice COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

Baselworld has reacted to the joint statement from Rolex, Patek Philippe, Tudor, Chopard and Chanel, which reveals the five major brands will not be exhibiting at the upcoming show.

In a statement released yesterday (April 14), the brands united to tell show management that enough is enough and they will no longer be exhibiting. Instead, the watch and jewellery giants plan to be hold their own fair in Geneva with the Foundation de la Haute Horlogerie.

The new show will be held early April 2021 at Palexpo, a the dame time as Watches and Wonders.

The statement says: “This departure follows a number of unilateral decisions made without consultation by Baselworld management, including the postponement of the watch show until January 2021, as well as its inability to meet the brands’ needs and expectations.”

Jean-Frédéric Dufour, Chief Executive Officer, Rolex SA, and Board Member, Montres Tudor SA, adds: “We have taken part in Baselworld since 1939. Unfortunately, given the way the event has evolved and the recent decisions made by MCH Group, and in spite of the great attachment we had to this watch show, we have decided to withdraw.

“Following discussions initiated by Rolex, it seemed only natural to create a new event with partners that share our vision and our endless, unwavering support for the Swiss watchmaking sector. This will allow us to present our new watches in line with our needs and expectations, to join forces and better defend the interests of the industry.”

Reacting to the news, Baselworld says it with “great surprise” and equally “great regret” that the organisers, MCH Group, take note of the cancellation of these major exhibitors.

Baselworld says it planed the new date of January 2021 with leading exhibitors, with the objective being to find the earliest and best possible date for the trade following COVID-19 related measures.

“The companies now “migrating” – including Rolex – spoke out in favour of a postponement to January 2021. They are also represented on the Exhibitors’ Committee, where the future vision of Baselworld has been discussed on several occasions and has met with a positive response, as was also evidenced by countless individual discussions,” a statement from the show states.

It adds: “The intention to move to Geneva has never been mentioned. The MCH Group must therefore conclude that the relevant plans have been in preparation for some time and that the discussions concerning the financial arrangements for the cancellation of Baselworld 2020 are now being put forward as an argument.”

In the next few weeks, the MCH Group will be making a decision on the continuation of Baselworld and on investments in its further development, which it says is geared to the long term.

The future now looks bleak for Baselworld as Rolex and Patek Philippe are the backbone of the show and are not the only exhibitors to have pulled out.

Swatch Group left Baselworld in 2018 to host its own event, while the likes of Breitling and Gucci had already announced it will not participate in 2021.

Major Japanese corporations Citizen Watch Group, Seiko, Grand Seiko and Casio had all withdrawn as well.

LVMH brands Bulgari, Hublot, TAG Heuer and Zenith have already established their own event to launch new products with the creation of LVMH Watch Week in January. Bulgari has confirmed it will not be at Baselworld, but the other brands are yet to comment.


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