The 29th edition of the SIHH (Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie) will soon be throwing its doors open with some 35 brands gearing up to unveil their latest models. The Geneva-based event, which runs between January 14 to 17, is one of the two major watch shows of the year – together with Baselworld. Just as the synchronization of the calendar of both events has been announced, MONOCHROME talks with Fabienne Lupo, Chairwoman & Managing Director of the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH) about what’s new for SIHH and FHH.
The rumour had been around for some time now, and many were hoping for this, it is now official, the SIHH and Baselworld will coordinate their dates as of 2020.
It is a major announcement and excellent news for the industry. This is a sensible and rational decision that emerged of discussions with Baselworld. Our two events are complementary, this move is in the interest of all.
It means that professionals of the watch industry, press and clients will not have to travel twice to Switzerland in a short period of time. The calendars have been synchronized until 2024. We had a look at the potential dates and late April, early May has been recognized as the best option. There is the Motor show in Geneva in March and January was not possible in Basel either. And finally, we are going back to what we had before 2009 when Baselworld and SIHH were synchronized.
After a successful 2018 edition, what are the novelties we can expect at SIHH 2019? What are the main changes?
The SIHH 2019 will be a condensed format. It will be 4-day long instead of 5, but with extended hours. We will kick-off with a VIP presentation on Sunday evening, a sneak preview for selected clients invited by the exhibiting Maisons.
We welcome a new Maison, Bovet. Bovet used to exhibit at SIHH and the brand is now back. We are very proud because this is a superb brand, laureate of the Aiguille d’Or at the Grand Prix de l’Horlogerie de Genève. All in all, there will be 35 exhibiting brands just like last year.
What is and has been our main focus for the past few years is to reshape SIHH in the current context. SIHH is no longer just a BtoB event, it has become a communication platform, a place for meeting and sharing for professionals but also for end customers.
The show will be open to the public on Thursday from 3 pm to 10 pm, hence with a late night opening. There will be an increased focus on SIHH Live that debuted last year. The ambition is to create and deliver content, offering the opportunity to brands to come and talk about their novelties, to organize keynotes with important announcements for their community. Our Auditorium is built just like a TV studio, allowing for live streaming. The idea is to talk to the people attending SIHH but also to reach people way beyond. We will also feature a number of expert talks with topics in relation to the world of watches, for instance, the distribution, social networks, the millennials or China.
Again, the idea is to reach people beyond SIHH, to engage with watch fans, bring them content and help them further discover and better understand Haute Horlogerie. This is really an important shift, we are no longer just BtoB (which remains important), and we aim at reaching a way larger audience.
The latest novelty for SIHH is what we have named the “SIHH Lab” where we will showcase digital and technological initiatives of exhibiting brands. This will be the opportunity to talk about watches in a different way. A watch fair today can no longer just be booths one next to each other with watches in display windows. We have to bring something else and this is what we have been doing for a few years now.
What is the VIP premiere on Sunday?
It will be a premiere for selected clients invited by the exhibiting Maisons. It will offer a sneak preview for their best clients. There they will discover the latest novelties and the show itself before it is officially opened.
The news that Audemars Piguet and Richard Mille pull out of SIHH was a surprise…
Well, we knew that they were questioning themselves on their attendance, so that was not exactly a surprise. This decision was taken in coherence with their strategy to cut multi-brand retailers, as they might still see SIHH as a BtoB event only, when, as said before, we are clearly bringing SIHH beyond this – more details here.
Does this open the door for new exhibitors?
Yes, of course. Nature abhors a vacuum. As brands leave the show, new ones are candidates to join SIHH. It is too early though to announce anything.
Beyond Geneva, what are the plans to export SIHH?
Today, the SIHH in Geneva is a worldwide event with this BtoB and BtoC dimension. The idea is to have a presence in different markets, with a format that cannot be the same as in Switzerland. It needs to be different with the idea to animate and support retail. We want to find places in interesting cities on different continents.
With Watches and Wonders, we have a local watch week concept. In 2018, for the first year, we organized Watches and Wonders in Miami, at the Design District. It has been a great success with over 20,000 visitors in 4 days. We had about 20 brands in 2018 and for 2019 we’ll have 30.
Brands are present with animations in their boutiques so they do not need to build a booth. They present new creations, unique pieces, special editions, watches from their museum or showcase their savoir-faire. As the organizer, the FHH brings a common cultural dimension: conferences, watchmaking initiation workshops, thematic exhibits, activities for children… We are also collaborating with two other important Miami events, the Yacht Show and the Miami (Classic Car) Concours. This is a ‘Luxury week’ in Miami with these four days in February.
We are looking to organize something similar in Asia. Where? It has not been decided yet.
Beyond SIHH, what are the missions of the FHH?
The mission of FHH is to promote the values, the culture and the savoir-faire of Haute Horlogerie worldwide and ultimately to make watchmaking more desirable. We do so through information and training.
Information can be shared with exhibits, conferences, our website, our online magazine or the work we are doing with schools. There is also this important project we have named HH Trends. With it, the FHH acts like a trend bureau, providing an insight into the major trends we have identified, to help and guide end consumers. The idea is to provide information and guidance to all the people interested in Haute Horlogerie.
The second mission is training. We have created the FHH Academy, a school to train and certify salespeople from multi-brand retailers or brand boutiques. Today, we have trained close to 15,000 persons worldwide, we have other 50 clients with whom we work. Nearly 4,000 people have been certified.
Last, we have launched an app called Watch Live. This e-learning tool allows sales associates to train while at work and follow watch news. They can learn a variety of topics in a playful way with rewards and incentives, through 3 functionalities: learn, play and follow. It is operational for the 8 watchmaking Maisons of Richemont but these shall be joined by several other FHH-member brands. With a single app, sales associates can have access to all the training materials of all the brands retailed in their point of sale.