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More watch companies call time on Baselworld

Three watch firms in as many weeks have given notice of quitting Baselworld in what has been a tumultuous quarter for the fair since the Swatch Group’s departure.

After a 30-year run, Maurice Lacroix on 15 October joined the exodus from the 2019 Basel show days after Corum and Raymond Weil announced they would not be attending the event.

In late September, Raymond Weil stated it would not be attending next year’s event, citing the Swatch Group’s departure as a contributing factor.

Corum joined the bandwagon in early October, announcing it too would not be at the 2019 fair.

Elie Bernheim, CEO, Raymond Weil
Elie Bernheim, CEO, Raymond Weil

Raymond Weil CEO Elie Bernheim told Swiss newspaper Le Temps that Swatch Group’s decision to leave “reinforced” its move, and the company would end its 40-year run, having received no contact from event organisers since Swatch’s exit.

“It bothered me to be in such a total unknown without any visibility on next year. For example, what will they do instead of the one-third of the main hall that was occupied by the Swatch Group brands?” Bernheim queried.

“Raymond Weil benefitted directly from the aura of Swatch Group. Longines, Tissot, Omega, Hamilton and Rado are all brands that are in my competitive environment. I’m not sure that distributors will continue to come to Basel if these brands are no longer there.”

“We are working hard, with positive results, to get Corum back on the path of its golden age, when Corum took the first position at the entrance of Baselworld,” Biard said.

“Today, our main objective is to focus on the real ‘ambassadors’ of the brand—retailers, final customers, and journalists. We therefore need to change our approach and invest the budget in other ways,” he said, adding that the company would invest in hosting “intimate and well-targeted” events across three continents.

On 8 October, Corum CEO Jérôme Biard announced after 62 years of exhibiting the company would be leaving Baselworld.

Maurice Lacroix announced it would instead exhibit for the first time on the “Ile Rousseau” in Geneva alongside Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) from 14-18 January 2019 when it will launch its latest Masterpiece creations.

Jérôme Biard, CEO, Corum
Jérôme Biard, CEO, Corum

“The watch industry is constantly evolving, as are the expectations of the Swiss firm’s retail customers, Maurice Lacroix felt that now is the time to upgrade its business and distribution model,” according to a company statement.

However, SIHH has its own fair share of issues with Richard Mille and Audemars Piguet having recently announced they would no longer attend the event, with both brands looking to action new strategies with a direct-to-consumer focus.

Baselworld’s woes began with the resignation of the event’s managing director and subsequent departure of its company, MCH Group CEO René Kamm.

Baselworld, however, does have the support of LVMH’s Watch Division for next year; Jean-Claude Biver, the outgoing CEO of Tag Heuer, has confirmed the group will attend however he has demanded that organisers meet exhibitors’ expectations to ensure it stays onboard in the years following.

“If we cannot find solutions…probably we’ll leave,” he said. “I agree with Swatch Group that the fair has never adapted to the 21st century, it is true,” Biver told CNN.

In an interview with WatchPro, Ricardo Guadalupe, chief executive of LVMH watch brand Hublot, agreed with Mr Biver.

“It would be better to have one show in January that everybody goes to than have the current two shows in January with SIHH and March with Baselworld.” Guadalupe said.


More reading
Baselworld Managing Director resigns
Baselworld CEO resigns as crisis deepens
Swatch Group withdraws from Baselworld
Slow decline of Baselworld: What a shame!
Baselworld: big changes needed to save the show

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