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Several long-standing exhibitors, including Rolex and Patek Philippe, will no longer exhibit at Baselworld.
Several long-standing exhibitors, including Rolex and Patek Philippe, will no longer exhibit at Baselworld.

Baselworld responds as Rolex, Patek Philippe, Chanel and Chopard abandon show; future in doubt

A group of long-standing Baselworld exhibitors have decided not to attend the show in 2021 and will instead exhibit their upcoming collections at a new trade show, held in conjunction with Watches & Wonders Geneva.

Rolex and its sister brand Tudor, Patek Philippe, Chanel, and Chopard announced the decision in a statement, citing “a number of unilateral decisions made without consultation [of exhibitors] by Baselworld management” and show organiser MCH Group’s “inability to meet the brands’ needs and expectations”.

Jean-Frederic Dufour, Rolex SA
Jean-Frederic Dufour, Rolex SA
"We have taken part in Baselworld since 1939. Unfortunately, given the way the event has evolved, and the recent decisions made by MCH Group... we have decided to withdraw"
Jean-Frédéric Dufour, Rolex SA

Jean-Frédéric Dufour, CEO Rolex and board member Montres Tudor, 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.”

Thierry Stern, president Patek Philippe, added, “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.”

A key factor in the decision was the cancellation of this year’s show, which was scheduled to be held from 30 April–5 May, directly after Watches & Wonders Geneva.

Several exhibitors expressed outrage that they would not be refunded 100 per cent of their deposits, and that the next edition of Baselworld had been rescheduled to 28 January–2 February 2021 – months before Watches & Wonders Geneva. The two shows had previously agreed to unite as the ‘Swiss Shows Week’ for five years.

» Full statement from Rolex, Tudor, Patek Philippe, Chanel and Chopard

Click image for larger version. With recent long-term supporters withdrawing support from Baselworld, the once-glamourous Hall 1 will be bare in 2021.
Baselworld responds overnight

 Following the cancellation announcement, Baselworld organiser MCH Group released a statement addressing the issues raised by the departing brands.

"It is with great surprise and equally great regret that the MCH Group takes note of the cancellation of major exhibitors at Baselworld. 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," the statement read. 

MCH Group also claimed that the five brands were "represented on the Exhibitors' Committee, where the future vision of Baselworld has been discussed on several occasions and has met with a positive response" and that "countless individual discussions" had also indicated the brands were accepting of the date change and the direction of the show.

However, the statement did not make mention of the controversial refund policy. Industry commentators have noted that Baselworld's decision to refer to the 2020 show as 'postponed' rather than 'cancelled' could have legal implications for its refund obligations. 

MCH Group is estimated to be holding CHF20 million ($AU32.3 million) in deposits for the cancelled 2020 show, of which $US9 million ($AU14 million) will be paid to the Basel exhibition centre, which it owns, despite no event taking place.

» Full statement from Baselworld, 15 April

New Swiss show to be held in Geneva

The new Rolex, Tudor, Patek Philippe, Chanel, and Chopard show – which, at the time of publication, did not have a name – will share dates, a venue, and an organiser with Watches & Wonders Geneva.

It will take place at the Palexpo Centre in early April 2021, with arrangements overseen by the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie.

"The decision to create a new show was led by Rolex, previously one of Baselworld’s largest and most loyal exhibitors."

The event will be “geared predominantly towards retailers, the press and VIP customers”.

Patek Philippe president Stern explained, “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 in the most professional manner possible.”

The decision to create a new show was led by Rolex, previously one of Baselworld’s largest and most loyal exhibitors.

In a statement, MCH Group claimed, “The intention to move to Geneva has never been mentioned. The MCH Group must therefore conclude that the relevant plans have been in preparation for some time and that the discussions concerning the financial arrangements for the cancellation of Baselworld 2020 are now being put forward as an argument.”

It added that the Baselworld had invested “substantial sums” in developing its digital platforms and year-round communications strategy, and that it had received “positive and supportive feedback” from small and medium-sized exhibitors across the watch, jewellery, gemstone and supplier industries.

However, with the withdrawal of five major exhibitors, the future of Baselworld is now in doubt. MCH Group has confirmed that it will be “making a decision on the continuation of Baselworld” in the coming weeks.
 

FORMER- LONG-TERM SUPPORTERS

Patek Philippe exhibited at Baselworld for <b>88 years.</b>
Patek Philippe exhibited at Baselworld for 88 years.
Rolex exhibited at Baselworld for <b>80 years. </b>
Rolex exhibited at Baselworld for 80 years.

Chopard exhibited at Baselworld for <b>55 years.</b>
Chopard exhibited at Baselworld for 55 years.
Chanel exhibited at Baselworld for <b>26 years. </b>
Chanel exhibited at Baselworld for 26 years.

 

More reading:
Uproar: Baselworld exhibitors demand full refund
Baselworld calls on industry to work together
Baselworld 2020 cancelled

 




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