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Baselworld Mulls Its Future as More Brands Quit

Rolex and Patek Philippe exit to launch breakaway show.
Apr 16, 2020 8:51 AM   By Rapaport News
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RAPAPORT... Five major watch brands have pulled out of the 2021 Baselworld show, prompting organizers MCH Group to consider the event’s future.

Rolex, Patek Philippe, Chanel, Chopard and Tudor will launch a new fair in Geneva in early April 2021 alongside the Watches & Wonders show (formerly SIHH), they said Tuesday.

The five companies cited Baselworld’s postponement of its 2020 edition to January 2021, which they described as a “unilateral” decision made without consultation, and claimed the exhibition’s management had failed to meet their “needs and expectations.”

Amid the falling-out, MCH said it would be making a decision on the continuation of Baselworld and future investments in the next few weeks. The exits could be even more explosive than that of Swatch Group in 2019, which led to the appointment of new management to help rescue relationships with exhibitors.

Tensions have remained despite the change of leadership. In recent weeks, exhibitors complained that the new dates for the 2021 Baselworld show clashed with events in Miami, Vicenza and Tucson, and that MCH was refusing to provide full refunds to those unable to attend.

“We have taken part in Baselworld since 1939,” said Jean-Frédéric Dufour, CEO of Rolex, which initiated discussions about the breakaway event. “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.”

Baselworld claimed the exiting brands had supported postponing the show to January, and said none of them had mentioned establishing a rival Geneva fair during talks at the exhibitors’ committee.

“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,” MCH said in a response Tuesday.

The new show, which doesn’t have a name yet, will take place at Geneva’s Palexpo convention center, and will be associated with Watches & Wonders. It may include other brands, and will target retailers, the press and VIP customers, according to the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie, which organizes Watches & Wonders.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Baselworld pushed back the 2020 show, originally scheduled for April 30 to May 5. It’s now due to run from January 28 to February 2, 2021.

Image: The Rolex booth at the 2019 Baselworld show. (Baselworld)
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Tags: Baselworld, Chanel, Chopard, Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie, geneva, Jean-Frédéric Dufour, MCH Group, Palexpo, patek philippe, Rapaport News, Rolex, Tudor, Watches & Wonders
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