Watches & Wonders 2020, the new version of the Geneva-based watch fair held by the FHH, previously named SIHH, is the latest in the growing list of events cancelled, postponed or relocated across the globe amid fears of a possible COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic.
The Geneva watch fair is one of the largest watch events around the world, together with Baselworld. The tradeshow is organized by FHH (Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie). For its 30th edition, the SIHH (Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie) had changed its name and programming, rebranded as Watches & Wonders for 2020 and beyond. 31 exhibiting brands were announced for this year’s edition. These include 10 Richemont brands such as Cartier, Jaeger-Lecoultre or IWC, but also Kering’s brands Ulysse Nardin and Girard-Perregaux, Hermès and independent watchmakers such as Parmigiani Fleurier, MB&F and H. Moser & Cie. In 2019, the event attracted over 23,000 visitors including 1,400 journalists and 3,000 public visitors.
“In view of the latest developments concerning the worldwide spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, it is the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie’s duty, as organizer of Watches & Wonders Geneva, to anticipate the potential risks that travels and important international gatherings could entail. Therefore, in order to protect the health and wellbeing of all our guests, press, partners and teams, the decision has been taken to cancel the upcoming edition of Watches & Wonders Geneva (formerly known as the SIHH) and its ‘In the City’ program, initially due to take place in Geneva,” says the press release sent by the FHH this very morning.
The industry is now on hold, looking at what will happen to Baselworld, the other major trade show. The Basel fair is scheduled from April 30 to May 5. Earlier this month, Bvlgari had announced that it would not be exhibiting at Baselworld 2020. Late February, it was Citizen’s turn to pull out of Baselworld due to the threat of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Coronavirus is already taking a heavy toll on the watch industry. The spread of the coronavirus is a major concern and will cost millions. In particular, brands are losing sales from their biggest customer base – the Chinese market, whether locally or when travelling. Retailers are now kept away from watch fairs and companies will be forced to handle business that would have got done there in a different way. And if that was not enough, fears that the coronavirus will turn into a global economic pandemic are mounting…