Baselworld Update: Show’s Death Knell Sounds in the Departure of Rolex, Tudor, Chopard, Patek, and Chanel

As most people have been hearing (and as we’ve been covering) Baselworld has been facing an uphill battle recently. From brands leaving the event, COVID-19 wrecking havoc, and exhibitors demanding their money back, people have been speculating that the end was near for Baselworld. Today we found out that it just got nearer.

Previously we learned that Rolex and Tudor were postponing future releases indefinitely as a response to COVID-19. Initially, releases from the brands were set to be shared with the public in April, but then the decision was made to postpone indefinitely. Obviously at the time this caused some speculation as to what sort of impact that may or may not have with Baselworld 2020, which was “postponed” to January 2021. Rolex and Tudor releases often represent some of Baselworld’s main value propositions for in-attendance visitors and the online audience.

Well, today (4/14/2020) an announcement was shared stating that Rolex, Tudor, Patek, Chanel, and Chopard were officially leaving Baselworld. They were leaving with the express purpose of working with FHH (formerly SIHH and the organizers of Watches & Wonders) to create a new horology trade show. This new show has yet to be named but is slated to take place in April 2021 in Geneva.


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Let’s take stock here:

  • First Swatch, Seiko, Breitling, Bulgari, and more leave Baselworld
  • Then Baselworld 2020 has been postponed to 2021
  • Next exhibitors begin to demand their money back from Baselworld
  • Now Rolex, Tudor, Patek, Chopard, Chanel announce they’re leaving and starting their own show

Take all of this in with the fact that MCH Group (the organizers of Baselworld) are predicting they’ll lose up to 170 millions Swiss francs in 2020 due to COVID-19 – that’s approximately $177 miliion USD at the time of this piece.

With these huge brands making exits, it’s basically a given at this point that we’ll begin to see other brands follow in suit. Brands only want to buy booths and exhibit at shows where there are tons of people and enough business interest. The fact is that most people show up to Baselworld not for the small or medium sized brands. They show up for Omega, Rolex, Tudor, Seiko – the huge players whose releases bring the crowds; the huge players who aren’t going to be at Baselworld ever again.

So basically right now Baselworld’s main hope is how it can leverage and maintain positive relations with those small to medium sized exhibitors who attend… the same exhibitors that Baselworld is refusing to offer full refunds to, because if they don’t those small to medium sized exhibitors may not survive 2020. I think it’s fair to say at this point while Baselworld may in fact showcase in january 2021 as anticipated, there’s no way it’ll ever look the same or be the same ever again. But let’s see what happens. The TBWS crew will continue to offer updates and insights as events unfold.


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Sources:
https://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2020/04/14/business/14reuters-mch-group-baselworld.html

Kaz Mirza( Co-Founder )

Kaz has been collecting watches since 2015, but he’s been fascinated by product design, the Collector’s psychology, and brand marketing his whole life. While sharing the same strong fondness for all things horologically-affordable as Mike (his TBWS partner in crime), Kaz’s collection niche is also focused on vintage Soviet watches as well as watches that feature a unique, but well-designed quirk or visual hook.


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