Rolex & Patek Philippe Exit Baselworld
Rolex, Patek Philippe, Chopard, Chanel and Tudor have announced that they will be leaving Baselworld to create a new watch trade show in Geneva. In a collaboration with Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH), the show will take the form of an additional salon at Palexpo, sharing the same space as Watches & Wonders in early April 2021. FHH is the organiser of Watches & Wonders, formerly known as SIHH.
According to the press release, this decision was made after "a number of unilateral decisions were 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."
MCH Group, the organiser of Baselworld, has since refuted such claims, saying: "The new date for the unavoidable postponement of Baselworld 2020 was defined jointly with leading exhibitors. The objective was to find the earliest and best possible date for the industry following the Covid-19-related measures. The companies now 'migrating' - including Rolex - spoke out in favour of a postponement to January 2021. They are also represented on the Exhibitors' Committee, where the future vision of Baselworld has been discussed on several occasions and has met with a positive response, as was also evidenced by countless individual discussions." You can read the rest of MCH Group's response here.
To explain the move, Jean-Frédéric Dufour, CEO of Rolex and Tudor, said: “We've 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 of Patek Philippe, noted that he was the fourth generation in his family to have participated in Baselworld, making the decision to depart a difficult one. "But life evolves constantly, things change and people change as well, whether it is at the level of those responsible for the watch fair organisation, 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."
Similarly, Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, co-president of Chopard, said the decision to leave Baselworld, where Chopard had exhibited since 1964, was a painful one. "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."
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Rolex, Patek Philippe and Chopard are three of the biggest exhibitors at Baselworld, enjoying prime positions close to the entrance in Hall 1. With their departures, it's safe to say that things will never be the same again for the watch and jewellery fair.