While Spring has come to Switzerland, the sky over the town of Basel remains cloudy and grey as the (sad) story continues. Already under pressure after the departure of Swatch Group, followed by the exodus of multiple other exhibitors and coupled with the current sanitary crisis, MCH, the owner of Baselworld, was forced to cancel its 2020 edition. This was followed by a series of announcements when some of the major exhibiting brands (Rolex, Patek, Tudor, Chopard and LVMH among others) announced their decision to leave the show after disagreements regarding the refund policy. This, incidentally, had to have an effect on the 2021 edition of the Basel-based fair. And indeed, it does, as MCH Group “has taken the decision not to hold Baselworld 2021” originally planned for January 2021… Postponed or cancelled? The Group still studies options.
The fact is that the Geneva-based Watches & Wonders fair, held by the Fédération de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH) with the backing of Richemont, seems to be much more resilient to the current COVID-19 situation. In addition, former cornerstones of Baselworld (Rolex, Patek, Chopard, Tudor and Chanel) have decided to move to Geneva and to hold their shows at the same time, right next to Watches & Wonders. As crucial supporters of Baselworld (financially and image-wise), it seems rather hard for this trade fair to keep doing things the way it used to do.
Originally planned from 28 January to 2 February 2021, the upcoming edition of Baselwolrd won’t be held and MCH Group indicates, in a press release sent a few minutes ago, that “together with the exhibitors and visitors, we are working intensively on clarifying and discussing the requirements and options for new platforms“. According to Michel Loris-Melikoff, Managing Director of Baselworld: “We will be taking a decision on possible follow-up formats by the summer and will then provide information on the new concept and scheduling.” Although the 2021 Edition of Baselworld hasn’t yet been fully cancelled, it is not going to take place in January 2021 and isn’t likely to happen in its classical format any longer.
On the brighter side of things, MCH Group indicates having reached agreement on the settlement for the cancelled Baselworld 2020 and to have found a solution “that is acceptable to everyone“. According to Hubert J. du Plessix, President of the Swiss Exhibitors’ Committee (and also a top-tier Rolex manager), Patek Philippe, Rolex, Tudor, Chanel, Chopard, Hublot, Zenith and TAG Heuer “have agreed to a lower refund so that the other exhibitors can benefit from better conditions“. This amicable settlement will thus allow Baselworld to concentrate on the future.
And talking future, as members of this industry and watch enthusiasts ourselves, we still hope that Baselworld will recover and to live this intense week, which has always been part of our jobs, again. Yet, it won’t happen in the same format anymore.