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Editorial - Fair weather report

Editorial Fair weather report

Have we reached a watershed in the era of big watch exhibitions?

We recently received exciting news about the upcoming edition of one of the newest and most high-profile international watch exhibitions — Dubai Watch Week. Despite being the latest fair or exhibition on the calendar, and despite its relative youth (the first edition was held in 2015), Dubai Watch Week has rapidly become an event that’s very much in focus for the global watch community. 

It attracts a wide range of participating brands, from big established companies to independent watchmakers. This makes it an ideal gathering point for the highly sophisticated local collectors and enthusiasts, not to mention their equally savvy regional and international brethren who travel frequently to Dubai. With such a dynamic mix of exhibitors and audience, and with the added allure of new product launches, how can the press stay away?

Anyway, back to the exciting news, which is that Rolex will be participating in this year’s edition of Dubai Watch Week. The organisers of Dubai Watch Week tell us that this is the first time Rolex will be part of an exhibition in the Middle East. To my recollection, I don’t think Rolex has ever been present at any of the other significant regional exhibitions, so this really is a major coup for the Dubai event.

Is this yet another sign of how things are going to be for the future of watch fairs and exhibitions? You guys might remember that this time last year, we were all dealing with the news that the Swatch Group was pulling out of Baselworld to focus on their own mini-showcase. People predicted the end of Baselworld, pointing to the mistakes made by the exhibition organisers and the dissatisfaction felt by exhibiting brands. 

The truth is, Baselworld didn’t end. It changed. The Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) has been changing too, over the last four years. We have new exhibitions like Dubai Watch Week. Watches & Wonders Miami seems to be gaining traction even though it has only existed for two years. The Swatch Group plans to continue its Time To Move event annually, combined with regional activities. LVMH group is debuting its inaugural watch event next January in Dubai. 

It doesn’t seem like things are slowing down at all. Focus and influence are less concentrated in one or two central events. Global interest and attendance are being spread out among regional loci. Decentralisation and redistribution. It all sounds a little too much like a socialist model, which can freak some people out, but the question to ask here is — is it better? And more specifically, is it better for the customer? I think you’ll find the answer is a resounding affirmative.

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