Swatch Group will leave Baselworld. The Swiss watch giant will not exhibit at the fair in 2019, and will never do again in the future – as per the Group‘s CEO Nick Hayek’s interview to NZZ am Sontag today.
This means that eighteen major brands will abandon the fair – among them Montres Breguet, Blancpain, Harry Winston, Jaquet Droz, Omega, Glashütte Original, and many more. This will leave Baselworld’s team with quite an empty space to manage, in Hall 1.
The Swatch Group has decided not to be present at Baselworld from 2019. Nick Hayek, Swatch Group CEO
“Hayek, a famously outspoken and flamboyant character in a staid and conservative industry, cited the cost of the fair’s 430 million franc exhibition building as a reason for the decision to withdraw.” Source: Reuters News
According to an official statement released on 30 July, Swatch Group stated that “Today everything has become more transparent, fast-moving, and instantaneous […] In this new context, annual watch fairs, as they exist today, no longer make much sense […] it is necessary that they reinvent themselves, responding appropriately to the current situation and proving more dynamism and creativity.”
The MCH Group, which organizes Baselworld, is clearly more concerned with perfecting and amortizing its new building – which, incidentally, is financed by the watch industry during the fairs – than it is in having the courage to make real progress and to bring about true and profound changes. – Swatch Group official statement
As a matter of fact, Baselworld’s hall, designed by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron, cost something like CHF 430 million (circa US$ 433 million / € 371 million), and the Group clearly stated they are not there to amortise such a cost.
With a declared budget allocated to the show of circa CHF 50 million (US$ 50.3 million), it is sure that the Group will find more efficient and effective ways to activate their brands at their best.
This move was to be expected, and it reveals the decline of a giant format that is no longer relevant for brands, nor for clients or customers.
A format that has not evolved to meet the fast-paced watch industry and market’s evolution, and which is now paying the penalty for it.
At this point, with such a colossus moving out of the fair, there could be a domino effect pushing other brands to leave and invest the huge budget set behind the show on more effective activations.
Therefore, we are now wondering: who will leave next? CC
UPDATE 30 JULY 2018
Through their press representatives, in Italy, both Chanel and Patek Philippe have confirmed their participation to Baselworld 2019 edition.