The global horological community has been discussing the phenomenon that was Baselworld over the past few days - a show that attracted participation from a truly global audience has been a constant debate for much much longer. It was the go to watch fair of the year where all the major brands would display their wares and take orders from their retail partners. The shake up that the show received this week was something that they must have seen coming. It was a known fact that the show was continuing to hemorrhage their partners year by year thinking that they were clearly untouchable however this week has shown they are more vulnerable than ever with the major losses of Patek Philippe, Rolex, Tudor and Chopard confirming that they will not be participating in the 2021 format.
"The decision to leave Baselworld was not easy, with myself being the fourth generation of the Stern family to participate in this traditional annual event. But life evolves, things change and so do people… We always have to adapt and question ourselves, because what was right yesterday is no longer necessarily true now!
Today, Patek Philippe is no longer in tune with the vision of Baselworld; there have been too many discussions and unresolved problems, so the confidence is no longer there… This is why, after various discussions with Rolex and other participating brands, we decided to create a unique event in Geneva”
Thierry Stern, President, Patek Philippe
Admittedly it is a sad time that Baselworld is loosing some of the big branded names but after many years of sky high costings and the advent of technology, including the increased use of social media enabling brands to promote their new launches through new media while Baselworld continued in its old fashioned ways - there is no surprise that brands started and become fed up of they way they continued to raise participation costs across the board. We have to remind ourselves that the show was trade show for the retailer market however that didn't mean that you and I as watch enthusiasts could participate and quite frankly it didn't stop us. The MWS team have participated over the years and did actually attend in 2019. Although the show had decreased in size,more noticeably in 2019 where the big void was created by the lack of the Swatch group pulling out of the show, it however still had that special buzz that is Baselworld. The showcasing some of the best horological pieces in the world still doesn't getting dull or dare say repetitive whether that is from the big players to the small independent brands - they were all a horological marvel. Then of course there were the huge multi-story booths created by Breitling, Tag Heuer, Patek Philippe, Tudor and of Rolex where the average watch enthusiast smudged their noses against glass barriers trying to get the best possible views of the hottest pieces launched that year! What a shame that nothing like that will be experienced in 2020 but now we will have to wait until 2021.
“We have participated in Baselworld since 1939. Unfortunately, given the developments around the event and the decisions taken by MCH Group in recent times, and despite all the attachment we had to this watch fair, we decided to leave.
Following discussions initiated by Rolex, the creation of a new salon with partners who share our vision and our unwavering support for the Swiss watch industry has always come naturally. It will allow us to present our new products according to our needs and expectations, to join forces and to defend the interests of the sector more solidly. ”
Jean-Frédéric Dufour, CEO, Rolex