By Ashley Davis
Ashley.Davis@nationaljeweler.com
Rolex led the charge for five heavyweight brands to leave Baselworld and start their own show that will be held in conjunction with Watches & Wonders Geneva next April. Pictured here is the Rolex booth at Baselworld last year. (Photo courtesy of Baselworld)
Geneva—Five heavyweight watch and jewelry brands have cut ties with Baselworld.

Rolex, Patek Philippe, Chanel, Chopard and Tudor announced Tuesday they are creating a new watch trade show to be held in conjunction with Watches & Wonders Geneva.

In a joint statement with Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie, organizer of Watches & Wonders (formerly SIHH), the brands cited Baselworld’s history of making major decisions without consulting exhibitors as part of the impetus for leaving.

The beleaguered Swiss watch and jewelry exposition has come under fire in the last decade for its exorbitant pricing and disregard for exhibitor feedback.

Its most recent affront to participating brands was its postponement to January 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, instead of April 2021 to align with Watches & Wonders.
“There have been too many discussions and unsolved problems; trust is no longer present.” – Patek Philippe President Thierry Stern
Exhibitors were even more roiled by their two show refund options: roll over 85 percent of fees to the next show and lose 15 percent to Baselworld organizer MCH Group, or claim a 30 percent refund now, with 40 percent of fees applying to the January show and loss of the remaining 30 percent.

Rolex SA CEO and Montres Tudor Board Member Jean-Frédéric Dufour noted in the joint statement: “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.

“Following discussions initiated by Rolex, it seemed only natural to create a new event with partners that share our vision and our endless, unwavering support for the Swiss watchmaking sector. This will allow us to present our new watches in line with our needs and expectations, to join forces and better defend the interests of the industry.”

Other executives echoed the difficulty in the historic decision to leave Baselworld.


Patek Philippe President Thierry Stern said: “The decision to leave Baselworld was not an easy one to take for me, being the fourth generation of the Stern family to participate in this traditional yearly event …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.

“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 yet-to-be-named watch trade show will be held at the Palexpo in Geneva at the same time as Watches & Wonders, in April 2021.


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