There’s no denying that, in the past couple of years, major watch fairs Baselworld and SIHH have been in the spotlight – but not in a pleasant way. Criticism came from all sides, brands, collectors, journalists… It was time for these professionally oriented trade fairs to evolve. This started with a change of format when Baselworld and SIHH announced that they would synchronise their calendars as of the 2020 edition. Now, it’s the FHH that announces a new format, new name, new dates and new audiences for the Geneva-based salon, becoming Watches & Wonders Geneva 2020.
The SIHH, Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie, a trade fair for watches organized by the FHH, Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie, which we know is mostly ruled by the Richemont Group, was created back in 1991. Since then, it has become one of the two major watch events of the year, with around 20 established brands and 20 independent watchmakers exhibiting and presenting their new collections. Taking place in January, it also set the tone for the horological year to come.
However, truth be told, watch fairs have been massively criticised by most attendees, whether on the exhibiting side, with brands voicing a negative view of the purpose of these fairs, pointing to high costs, low return on investment, lack of exposure, low interaction with the final client, to criticism from the journalists’ side and from the watch enthusiast side, as a regular watch aficionado will have limited access to these events (unless a huge collector).
As multiple brands left the shows – such as the entire Swatch Group leaving Baselworld in 2019, Baselworld and SIHH had to react. More interaction, lower costs, a more modern approach, connections between the brands and the potential clients, a show more connected to the external world… These were the requests.
While it has already been announced that Baselworld and SIHH will be joining forces in 2020 by synchronising dates – end of April 2020 for Geneva and early May 2020 for Basel – another announcement wants to make a clean slate of the past, by bringing a fresher concept.
As of the 2020 edition, the FHH announced that the Geneva-based salon will no longer be known as the SIHH and will be called Watches & Wonders Geneva. As a reminder, Watches & Wonders was a name already used in the past for two watch fairs in Hong Kong and Miami. This same name is now used for THE main event, in Geneva.
Besides the new name, logo and dates (From April 25th to 29th, 2020), Watches & Wonders Geneva also brings several novelties. The main salon will still be located near Geneva Airport, at Palexpo and promises to be “more outward-looking, more experiential, more interactive and more connected” with concepts such as the Lab (a showcase of the latest technological innovations from the exhibiting brands) or the Live (a succession of keynotes and interventions).
The main novelty is named “In The City”. The city of Geneva itself will be part of the experience; “Exhibitions, walking tours, initiations to watchmaking and visits to manufactures, along with boutique presentations, museum open houses, conferences, conversations with industry players and more will make up a rich and varied programme that is open to everyone.” The idea is to engage another type of visitor, non-professional ones mainly – meaning watch enthusiasts.
More details at www.watchesandwonders.com.