Baselworld ended its six day show with a press conference outlining plans for 2020.

Managing Director of Baselworld, Michel Loris-Melikoff, emphasised that 2019 was a year of transition for Baselworld as the giant screen behind him revealed some cold facts about this year’s edition.

Baselworld revealed it welcomed 81,200 visitors this year (a reduction of 22% compared to 2018), 520 brands exhibited (down 20%), and 3,300 individuals attended from media outlets (12% down).


Loris-Melikoff said he regretted the decline but stressed that the quality of the visitors was excellent and he is confident that the turnaround has begun with this year’s edition and the outlook for 2020.

In light of this, a big emphasis for next was placed on ‘change’ and ‘transformation’ – two words which were used a lot – and a focus on expanding and diversifying the role that Baselworld plays, beyond just a traditional trade show model.

Details were scarce and buzzwords plentiful, but the general theme seems to be to embrace the digital world more and more. E-concierges, AR, VR and Instagram Spots were all mentioned, with the managing director revealing plans for new event and experience zones including a Retailer Summit. Chief Executive Talks and a Virtual Reality Zone.

The hall layout will also alter for 2020, the gemstone exhibitors will move into Hall 2, where an Innovation Square will also be established and a large area will be reserved for smartwatches and wearables.

Organisers also said the outside exhibition square will be completely redesigned and once again there was an emphasis on the show wanting to strengthen its jewellery offer. To this end, Baselworld is changing its tagline to: “The Watch and Jewellery Community”

All the changes and plans mentioned will cost a lot of money, Loris-Melikoff said, and therefore will take three years to be fully implemented. In other words, don’t expect everything to be fixed by next year.

The Q&A at the end of the press conference shed arguably more light on things than the presentation itself, with the issue of dates for 2020 being raised. Professional Jeweller has heard from many brands that the proposed dates of April 30 until May 5 next year are far later than ideal, but Loris-Melikoff insisted that it was their only option.

He claimed that January was “too early for the jewellery sector”, February doesn’t work because of the Chinese New Year, March wouldn’t be okay for SIHH because there’s a motor show on in that month that uses the same space (as a reminder, the current proposal is to host SIHH and Baselworld one after the other) so April became the winner by default.

This will be viewed with scepticism by many in the trade, who will also point out that other major exhibitions in the watch and jewellery industries, such as Vicenza and Inhorgenta, already take place in January and February.

Loris-Melikoff played an admirably straight bat when it came to the question about Rolex’s and Patek Philippe’s attendance at Baselworld next year, simply saying that these decisions are out of his control and that he expects “an announcement to be made very soon.”

Baselworld will be hoping that some of the positive changes that were seen this year will translate into goodwill and trust across the industry and therefore result in more exhibitors signing up for next year.

Other key points to come from the conference included the announcement of pop-up events around the world over the course of 12 months in between instalments of Baselworld and a new press centre for 2020