Luxury watchmakers have to face turbulent times. The two major trade shows, Watches & Wonders (ex-SIHH) and Baselworld have just announced the cancellation of their 2020 editions amid fears of a possible COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic. With these lost opportunities to meet retailers and the press, watch brands need to handle business that would have got done there, but in a different way. The antidote to operate in challenging periods is agility… In just three days, on the initiative of Bvlgari’s CEO Jean-Christophe Babin, a group of brands has set up the organization of the “Geneva Watch Days 2020”. The self-managed, decentralized multi-brand event is to be held from 26 to 29 April 2020, at the exact same dates as Watches & Wonders 2020. Industry top players are already involved in the project: Breitling, Bvlgari, Gerald Genta, Girard-Perregaux, MB&F, Ulysse Nardin, De Bethune and Urwerk.
The underlying idea of this Geneva Watch Days 2020 is simple. With the cancellation of Watches & Wonders and Baselworld, the only solution for brands would have been to each organize their own private roadshows and events. The proliferation of such meetings would be a headache for the industry players, as retailers and the press cannot easily attend each of them. So why not coordinate and create a collective gathering in Geneva? Each brand organizes its own showroom, mainly in Geneva’s city centre hotels. A steering committee involving all brands coordinates all activities, including a press dinner and a retailer party organized with GMT to be held jointly. The committee is also in charge of negotiating preferential hotel rates for all attendants and to eventually open the Geneva Watch Days to additional brands, if they deem it interesting.
The State of Geneva was fast to give the initiative its stamp of approval. While the Federal Swiss Council has just banned public and private events gathering more than 1,000 attendees (see here), this decentralized Geneva Watch Days 2020 would not infringe the prohibition.
Jean-Christophe Babin, CEO of Bvlgari, in an exclusive interview with MONOCHROME, declared that “this Geneva Watch Days event has been created by a group of brands not resigned in view of the recent events. It is an innovative concept that is light and flexible. It is an optimistic message, a collective and positive initiative that will benefit the industry.” Babin also adds that the organizers “are currently in advanced discussions with several other important names including Chopard and H. Moser & Cie., which we hope will be confirmed very soon.”
Jean-Christophe Babin comments that these Geneva Watch Days are organized along the same lines as the Dubai Watch Week held by LVMH last January. The event allowed participating brands to achieve substantial business and solid press coverage. But there is no vocation to become an event organizer here. Bvlgari’s CEO welcomes the fact that the next edition of Baselworld is now slated for January and hopes that Watches & Wonders will follow the same schedule.
We, at MONOCHROME, will make sure to attend the Geneva Watch Days 2020 and to report live with the novelties presented there.