The organizer of Baselworld has called off the next edition of the show, scheduled for January to February 2021, following a revolt over timing and refunds.
MCH Group said it had reached an agreement with exhibitors and drawn up an “amicable solution” that had gained support from industry associations.
“In light of the large loss of revenue due to COVID-19, and our responsibility to all our stakeholder groups, this solution marks the limit of what is possible for us,” Bernd Stadlwieser, MCH’s CEO, said in a statement Thursday. “With the amicable settlement…, we can now concentrate fully on the future.”
Patek Philippe, Rolex, Tudor, Chanel and Chopard, as well as LVMH brands Hublot, Zenith and Tag Heuer, have agreed to take a thinner refund so that other exhibitors receive better conditions, according to Hubert du Plessix, president of the Baselworld exhibitors’ committee and chief investment officer at Rolex.
Those brands had quit the 2021 show amid complaints that the fair clashed with other events and that MCH was not returning the fees it had already received. MCH had been forced to cancel the 2020 edition due to the coronavirus, and rescheduled it for January 28 to February 2, 2021.
“I welcome the constructive attitude of the representatives of the MCH Group, which has enabled us to find a balanced solution,” noted du Plessix, who had been a vocal critic of MCH’s handling of the rescheduling.
“Together with the exhibitors and visitors, we are working intensively on clarifying and discussing the requirements and options for new platforms,” said Michel Loris-Melikoff, Baselworld’s managing director. “We will be taking a decision on possible follow-up formats by the summer, and will then provide information on the new concept and scheduling.”
Baselworld Watch and Jewellery Show is a trade show of the international watch and jewellery industry, organized each spring in the city of Basel, Switzerland, at Messe Basel.
It comprises about 2,100 exhibitors from over 45 countries, including the leading watch and jewellery brands, as well as companies specializing in precious gems. The show attracts over 94,000 visitors.
The latest Baselworld was held March 21-26, 2019.
Baselworld belongs to the MCH Group which also organizes Art Basel in Basel, Miami Beach and Hong Kong.
The show dates back to 1917 with the opening of the first Schweizer Mustermesse Basel (muba), of which a section was devoted to watches and jewellery. In 1925, muba invited several watch manufacturers to participate. In 1931, the Schweizer Uhrenmesse (Swiss Watch Show) was first held in a dedicated pavilion. After 1972’s Europe’s meeting place exhibition, companies from France, Italy, Germany, and the United Kingdom were also invited. In 1983, the show changed its name to BASEL with two numerals denoting the exhibition year, e.g., BASEL 83. In 1986, companies from outside Europe were included for the first time, reflecting the increased number of visitors from outside Europe. In 1995, the show was renamed to BASEL 95 – The World Watch, Clock and Jewellery Show In 1999, a new hall with 36,000 sq m of exhibition space was added. The year 2000 saw an increase of 6% in trade visitors. In 2003 the show was again renamed to Baselworld, The Watch and Jewellery Show. In 2004, with the introduction of a new hall complex, the exhibition area extended to 160,000 square meters, and attracted more than 89,000 visitors. In 2018, Baselworld saw a significant drop in exhibitors to 650, and the duration of the exhibition was shortened by two days, although attendance remained stable. In addition, Baselworld announced that it and SIHH will coordinate their dates from 2020 until 2024. In 2019, with the withdrawal of Swatch Group (they had announced in 2018 that they would no longer attend Baselworld 2019 with any of their brands), the show has been reduced by one day. In 2019, the show management announced a new concept for Baselworld. The show is to be developed from a classic trade fair to an experience platform and will also address consumers. In April 2020 Rolex, Patek Philippe, Chopard, Chanel and Tudor announced that they would be pulling out of Baselworld and host their own fair in April 2021.