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The dates for the 2021 edition of Baselworld have been changed amid concerns from exhibitors and retailers.
The dates for the 2021 edition of Baselworld have been changed amid concerns from exhibitors and retailers.

Baselworld announces new dates, Maurice Lacroix to return

Following widespread complaints over Baselworld’s 2020 show dates, organisers have confirmed the 2021 edition will be brought forward by three weeks.

Traditionally, Baselworld has been held at the end of March in order to take advantage of the Northern Hemisphere spring buying season.

However, next year’s Baselworld will take place from 30 April–5 May, directly after the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) in Geneva – a decision made to entice visitors to the ‘Swiss Shows Week’.

Yet the new dates have caused problems, as watch orders placed at the trade fair could have lead times of up to six months – meaning some collections wouldn’t be delivered to retailers until November.

Some exhibitors also expressed concerns about the 2020 dates clashing with the rest of their promotional schedules; Breitling pulled out of Baselworld entirely as a result.

Addressing the concerns, Michel Loris-Melikoff, managing director Baselworld, said he and the organisers of SIHH were working on finding an earlier timeslot for the two shows, which will continue to run back-to-back until 2024.

“It is not easy to move the dates because it is not just six days of the show – the biggest stands, like Rolex’s, take six weeks to build,” Loris-Melikoff explained. “If I shift just one or two days, it has a huge impact on other shows, and in Geneva they have the same issue. It is a wonder we found the date at the end of April and only now we are told that it is too late.

Michel Loris-Melikoff, Baselworld
Michel Loris-Melikoff, Baselworld
“If I shift just one or two days, it has a huge impact on other shows… We have to find a solution, and that is a big job for us, between now and the end of the year”
Michel Loris-Melikoff, Baselworld

“We have to find a solution, and that is a big job for us, between now and the end of the year. It is very complicated,” he added.

Long considered one of the world’s leading luxury trade shows, Baselworld has seen a steady decline in exhibitor and visitor numbers over the past decade.

Soaring costs and reduced floor space as well as the end of the ‘China watch boom’ in 2015 lead many high-profile exhibitors to end their association. Swatch Group quit the show in 2018, followed by Corum and Raymond Weil, among others.

As a result, Baselworld management has changed the layout of Hall 1.0 for the 2020 event, in order to make the show floor’s central zone more affordable for exhibitors.

Businesses will not have to construct their own expensive multi-level booths, as they have in the past. Instead, each structure in this area – which has been named the ‘community district’ – will house two to three brands, private conference rooms and customisable interiors.

The plan has already succeeded in wooing back Maurice Lacroix, which quit the event in 2018 but will exhibit in 2020.

Stéphane Waser, managing director Maurice Lacroix, said, “The new Baselworld team was able to listen to our needs by proposing a concept that respects our marketing and distribution strategy... We were also seduced by the community district; this pavilion, designed by the organisation, is modern and contemporary, in line with our vision of presenting the Maurice Lacroix brand at international watchmaking exhibitions.”

Loris-Melikoff added, “We are very pleased to see a traditional exhibitor like Maurice Lacroix return to the heart of Hall 1.0.”

Future shows will also have a further emphasis on gems and jewellery, with Baselworld recently joining CIBJO as a commercial member. In 2019, more than 75 jewellery brands and nearly 30 loose gem companies exhibited at Baselworld – together representing approximately one-fifth of the total exhibitors.

In a further effort to reinvigorate its fortunes, Baselworld has also signed an agreement with Swiss venture capital business Luxury Venture Group to support start-ups in watches, jewellery and related industries.

Loris-Melikoff said the partnership “closes an important gap from our point of view and fits perfectly with the new positioning of Baselworld 2020 as an experience platform”.

As part of the initiative, next year’s Baselworld will feature a ‘Luxury Venture Day’ – bringing together young luxury businesses, investors and academics – as well as ‘experience areas’ and events designed to assist and inspire luxury entrepreneurs.


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More reading:
What’s new in the watch market?
A new direction for Baselworld
Watch out, Baselworld: Geneva Salon goes from strength to strength


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