Switzerland’s Swatch Group, which owns the Tissot, Longines, Omega, Breguet, Hamilton, Harry Winston, Blancpain, Calvin Klein, Rado and Balmain along with the eponymous Swatch watch brands, has announced that it will no longer participate in the annual Baselworld watch and jewellery trade show, which has run for a century in Basel.
Group Chief Executive Nick Hayek was quoted as saying that traditional annual trade fairs were no longer useful in a more transparent and fast-paced world. A company statement said, “Annual watch fairs, as they exist today, no longer make much sense,” adding, “this does not mean that they should disappear. But it is necessary that they reinvent themselves, responding appropriately to the current situation and demonstrating more dynamism and creativity. At the moment, the trade fairs are failing to do so.”
Hayek, citing the CHF 430 million cost of Baselworld’s new exhibition centre, was quoted as saying, “We are not here to amortise an expensive hall.”
The move carries significant financial weight. Swatch reported spends over $50 million on participating in Baselworld each year including the travel and hotel expenses for staff and guests.
Michel Loris-Melikoff, who took over as Managing Director of Baselworld at the beginning of July, was quoted as saying, “It would be a great disappointment if the Swatch Group were to leave Baselworld. We are doing everything we can to keep them in Basel.” He said the trade show intends to continue being the number one event for the watch industry.