After the “bomb” that was dropped by Rolex, Tudor, Patek Philippe, Chopard and Chanel earlier this week, concerning their decision to leave Baselworld, there is no longer any doubt about the (low) relevance of Baselworld for major brands. Subsequently, we have just been told that all four LVMH Brands, those from the watch Division – Hublot, TAG Heuer and Zenith – as well as the House of Bvlgari, have taken the decision to leave Baselworld “in order to preserve their image and their relations with their clients as well with the media“.
As of today, most of the top-tier brands that were participating in Baselworld are gone – LVMH, Swatch Group, Seiko, Citizen, Breitling, Rolex and sister-brand Tudor, Patek Phillipe, Chopard, Chanel and Gucci (that also announced its departure recently). Almost the entire Hall 1.0 of the Basel fair has lost its exhibitors.
As for LVMH brands Bvlgari, Hublot, TAG Heuer & Zenith, the Group justifies its decision by the fact that this week’s previous withdrawals have “weakened representation of the Swiss watch industry and hence inevitably lower participation” and, as such, there are no reasons anymore for these brands to participate in Baselworld. In the joint press release sent by the four brands, it is indicated that the Maisons are leaving “in order to join the other flagship brands of the Swiss watch industry in Geneva from 2021 onwards“. Will LVMH exhibit alongside Rolex and Patek in Palexpo or separately in Geneva’s city centre? This isn’t defined yet and the brands are now “examining various potential event formats corresponding to the need to present their strategic directions and new products“.
On this specific topic, Stéphane Bianchi, CEO of the LVMH Watchmaking Division indicates that “with this in mind, we will do our utmost to be present alongside the other prestigious Maisons that will gather in Geneva in April 2021“. And Jean-Christophe Babin, CEO Bvlgari Group, also says that “grouping the entire Swiss watch industry in a single location, Geneva (…) and around a single date, is a major opportunity to at last revive a sector that all too many divisions and divergent interests have weakened compared to the rest of the luxury sector“.
In a final statement, Mr Babin explains that his brand is “looking forward to going to Geneva in April 2021, even though we still need to define the terms of our participation, which we will specify in the coming weeks,” leaving no doubt about the presence of the LVMH brands in Geneva, April 2021. This confirms that the new centre of gravity of the watchmaking industry has shifted from Basel to Geneva.
Here’s a view of the Hall 1.0 of Baselworld, updated with brands out (in red) and those that haven’t yet announced their position (in green).