‘LVMH leaves Baselworld’ are words which will, I suspect, surprise no one. Just a few days ago, Rolex, Tudor, Patek Philippe, Chopard & Chanel pulled out of Baselworld — the most well-known watch fair in the world. However, the departure and reasons for it of LVMH’s Zenith, Bvlgari, Hublot & TAG Heuer may be even more damning for this trade fair.
This morning, a press communication was issued which broke the hard news that the LVMH leaves Baselworld for 2021. Before delving into exactly what this means, I think that I should present the press communication itself for your consideration.
“Within this context of clearly weakened representation of the Swiss watch industry and hence inevitably lower participation, it appears clear to the brands composing the Division and to the House of Bvlgari that they must also withdraw in order to preserve their image and their relations with their clients as well with the media. They will therefore not be taking part in the 2021 edition of Baselworld.“
What this means, for Baselworld as a show is perhaps more grave than the departure of Rolex and the other aforementioned brands. This is because such a departure is based not upon a fracas with the MCH Group — Baselworld’s owner — but due due to attendance of the show casting an undesirable light upon attending brands. In this context, the position of Baselworld as an institution in the watch world is being eroded by the day.
A glimmer of hope is the fact that there has been sign that LVMH would not return is circumstances were to change. Even so, the chances of a successful Baselworld 2021 and, as a consequence, further shows is becoming ever more unlikely as MCH Group share prices continue to suffer. One also has to consider whether the MCH group will host 2021’s Baselworld fair due to the expression of further consideration on the matter prior to the news of LVMH leaving the show.
Where the future is concerned, LVMH leaves Baselworld but expresses an intention of joining the other major brands which will be present in Geneva from 2021 onward. It remains to be seen whether TAG Heuer, Bvlgari, Hublot and Zenith will join an exclusive show for press, retailers and V.I.P. customers as Rolex, Tudor and Patek Philippe will or whether they will have a ‘Watches & Wonders’ approach more open to the public.
In any case, this is a rapidly evolving story and I expect to publish more on the matter in coming days.