World’s biggest watch brands exit Baselworld

Five of the world’s biggest watch brands have released a joint statement announcing their withdrawal from Baselworld 2021, following the cancellation of this year’s event due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a joint statement, Rolex, Patek Philippe, Chanel, Chopard and Tudor said they will no longer participate in the world’s largest watch event, and now intend to create a new watch trade show alongside the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie. 

The brands said the departure comes as a number of “unilateral decisions” were made without consultation by Baselworld management, including the postponement of the watch show until January 2021, as well as its “inability to meet the brands’ needs and expectations”.

The show will be held early April 2021 at Palexpo, Geneva. It will be linked to Watches and Wonders, organised by the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie. The brands said the aim is to offer partner brands the “best possible professional platform”, applying a “shared vision to successfully meet future challenges in the watchmaking industry”. 

The brands also claim that the show will give “crucial prominence” to the sector’s expertise and innovations, both in Switzerland and internationally. Other brands may also be added, according to terms that have not yet been defined. This new event will be geared predominantly towards retailers, the press and VIP customers. 

Jean-Frédéric Dufour, chief executive officer, Rolex SA, and board member, Montres Tudor SA, 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. 

“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. 

He added: “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.”

Thierry Stern, president, Patek Philippe 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.

“But life evolves constantly, things change and people change as well, whether it is at the level of those responsible for the watch fair organization, the brands or the clients. We constantly have to adapt ourselves, question what we do, since what was right yesterday may not necessarily be valid today.”

He 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.”

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