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Rolex, Patek Philippe, Tudor, Chanel and Chopard Leave Baselworld and Create their Own Watch Fair April 2021

The decision that could easily mean the end of Baselworld...

| By Brice Goulard | 5 min read |

This is something BIG, one of the most important pieces of news we’ve received recently. This, believe us, will have the effect of a bomb on the industry: Rolex, Patek Philippe, Chanel, Chopard and Tudor have announced they will leave Baselworld to create a new watch trade show in Geneva together with the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie. We already knew that the situation was complex for Baselworld, which had to face pressure from Rolex and some of the biggest actors in the industry – something we explained here, a week ago. Well, this is now official, as the two brands – Rolex and PP – that were somehow responsible for the survival of Baselworld are now leaving, and some other top-tier brands have followed suit.

In an official statement that we received a few minutes ago, the participants explain that “this departure follows a number of unilateral decisions made without consultation by Baselworld management, including the postponement of the watch show until January 2021, as well as its inability to meet the brands’ needs and expectations.” The situation with Baselworld has been fraught with difficulties for a couple of years now. And the postponing of the 2020 Edition, without the brands being refunded is the final step in this complex situation.

“We have taken part in Baselworld since 1939 (…) Unfortunately, we have decided to withdraw” says Dufour, CEO of Rolex

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This new show, which will be held early April 2021, will be linked to Watches & Wonders, organized by the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie, and will take place at Palexpo. This means that the show will be next door to the ex-SIHH watch fair, where IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, A. Lange & Söhne, all the other Richemont brands, as well as multiple independent watchmakers are also exhibiting. As explained in the press release, “other brands may also be added, according to terms that have not yet been defined.” For the moment, five industry leaders are participating, Rolex and sister-brand Tudor, Patek Philippe, Chanel and Chopard.

What we’re talking about is a professionally oriented watch fair, in the same vein as Baselworld and SIHH, as “this new event will be geared predominantly towards retailers, the press and VIP customers.

“The decision to leave Baselworld was not an easy one to take for me” says Thierry Stern

What will this mean for Baselworld? This is the main question, but knowing that already multiple brands had left – including the main Japanese actors, Seiko and Citizen – as well as Breitling, in addition to the heavyweights that are Rolex and Patek, the future of the Basel-based watch fair is more uncertain than ever. This could be the end of Baselworld. Plain simple.

More news to come in the following days concerning this sad but highly anticipated decision.

Some quotes from the brand’s representatives:

Jean-Frédéric Dufour, Chief Executive Officer, Rolex SA, and Board Member, Montres Tudor SA, said: “We have taken part in Baselworld since 1939. Unfortunately, given the way the event has evolved and the recent decisions made by MCH Group, and in spite of the great attachment we had to this watch show, we have decided to withdraw. Following discussions initiated by Rolex, it seemed only natural to create a new event with partners that share our vision and our endless, unwavering support for the Swiss watchmaking sector. This will allow us to present our new watches in line with our needs and expectations, to join forces and better defend the interests of the industry.”

Thierry Stern, President, Patek Philippe said: “The decision to leave Baselworld was not an easy one to take for me, being the fourth generation of the Stern family to participate to this traditional yearly event. But life evolves constantly, things change and people change as well, whether it is at the level of those responsible for the watch fair organization, the brands or the clients. We constantly have to adapt ourselves, question what we do, since what was right yesterday may not necessarily be valid today! Today Patek Philippe is not in line with Baselworld’s vision anymore, there have been too many discussions and unsolved problems, trust is no longer present. We need to answer the legitimate needs of our retailers, the clients and the press from around the world. They have to be able to discover the new models from Swiss watchmakers each year, at one time, in one place, and this in the most professional manner possible. That is why, following several discussions with Rolex and in agreement with other participating brands, we have decided to create, all together, a unique event in Geneva, representative of our savoir-faire.”

Frédéric Grangié, President of Chanel Watches & Fine Jewellery said: “Like its partners, CHANEL shares the same independence and the same desire to protect and promote the values, know-how, utmost quality and precision of Swiss Watchmaking. This initiative marks a key milestone in the history of CHANEL Watchmaking and is part of a long-term strategy, which began with the launch of this activity in 1987. This exhibition will allow us to present all of our new creations in an environment that meets our high-quality standards.”

Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, Co-President Chopard et Cie SA said: “Chopard first exhibited at the Basel fair in 1964 with a stand of some 25 square metres. After careful consideration, our family decided to support the Rolex initiative and retire from Baselworld – a painful decision. The creation of this new watch show in Geneva, in parallel to Watches & Wonders, will allow us to better serve our watchmaking partners and our customers. Through the alliance, these grandes maisons will also be able to collaborate in promoting the values and best interests of Swiss watchmaking.”

Jérôme Lambert, on behalf of the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie Council said: “The Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie is delighted to welcome a new salon which will strengthen the historical Watches & Wonders event in Geneva next year in early April.”

2 responses

  1. It should not even be open to the public, they wont be treated well as the show is geared towards retailers… This was the disappointment of Baselworld when an average lover of watches would show up and be greeted with snobbery.

  2. An invitation only event for loyal patrons, distributors, and the press would seem the best way. As an attendee of SIHH over the years, I prefer the elegance, professionalism and courtesy afforded to those who are serious collectors and enthusiasts. Attendees dress up for the event, and this adds to the respect many of us have for the industry as a whole. Bravo Mr. Stern for working with Watches and Wonders!

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