The winds of change blowing at Baselworld have become a typhoon. The world’s largest watch and jewellery fair, announced it would see diminishing numbers at next year’s edition. Baselworld celebrated its 100th anniversary last year.
The number of exhibitors will range from 600 to 700 – a decrease from previous years. Previous years had seen a much larger number, one that was closer to 1,500. The number of days, too, will be cut short from eight to just six days.
This continues the recent trend, in which brands chose not to return to Baselworld. A few are turning to Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH). Girard-Perregaux, for example, returned to its SIHH roots earlier this year, when it left Baselworld after showing at the trade fair for four years. Ulysse Nardin, too, showed at SIHH for the first time this year.
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Bremont, too, a regular exhibitor, left. Instead of joining a fair, it invited journalists to a private viewing in London.
Next year, SIHH will add another prestigious brand name to its growing list of exhibitors: Hermès, which will be showcasing their watches alongside major exhibiting brands such as Cartier and Panerai. Other brands, like DeWitt, Ferdinand Berthoud and Romain Gauthier, will be joining SIHH’s Carré des Horlogers – a collection of independent watchmakers with SIHH’s seal of approval.
Most of the complaints that swirled around earlier this year among exhibitors was the high cost of showing at Baselworld. According to Forbes, however, the price for exhibitors to showcase will be slashed by 10 per cent.
Forbes also notes that the physical space of the fair will also be reduced: Hall 1.2, 4 and 5 will no longer be used, while only half of Hall 2 will be occupied.
Meanwhile, Baselworld’s organisers are remaining positive.
“Baselworld 2018 will be more coherent and more concentrated,” says Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, co-president of Chopard. “I look forward to participating in 2018, and I think Baselworld’s management has made the right decision to initiate change.”
François Thiébaud, president of the Swiss Exhibitors’ Committee, says, “All these measures are positive for Swiss exhibitors. We now focus on the essence of what constitutes our industry.”
Despite the dreary news, a silver lining does exist: Baselworld will be stepping up its digital game. “From 2018, new forms of real-time digital communication will be offered,” the fair’s organisers said.