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Baselworld - Interview with Michel Loris-Melikoff

Baselworld Interview with Michel Loris-Melikoff

The Managing Director of Baselworld spoke with us on the new features of Baselworld 2020 - the Community District, Les Ateliers, the Watch Gallery, the Incubator, the VIP Tours.

How has the Baselworld experience evolved this year?
This is the first year of our new “Baselworld 2020+” strategy. Our aim is simple: we want to build a modern and connected platform which will promote business, offer some incredible experiences, and connect the industry with the community as a whole, all year round. Beginning this year, new event formats, public conferences (which will also be livestreamed), exhibitions, taster workshops and an artists’ gallery will showcase the industry’s great diversity and potential. Things are changing.

What is special about the Community District?
For the first time, we have designed – and will be building – a turnkey booth solution for brands, offering a transparent architecture and a coherent concept. These booths will take the form of a big group of several large buildings, each accommodating one or two brands. They mirror the general direction we are taking, by placing the emphasis on experiential zones for visitors on the ground floor, with business areas specifically for professionals on the first floor. Some exhibitors who decided to leave two years ago have decided to return in 2020. Maurice Lacroix is one of them. That shows that we are better meeting their expectations, while keeping strict control of costs.

Interview de Michel Loris-Melikoff

Community District © Baselworld

The smaller independent brands are always a big draw for watch aficionados. Will there be many of them this year, and where will they be located?
The number of exhibitors in this category is also rising. We’ve been listening, and thanks to our dialogue and creativity, we have been able to reposition our offers, and create new formats that correspond to their different stages of development. Les Ateliers, the Watch Gallery, the Incubator... These spaces, which all meet specific needs, will be in Hall 1 South, along with comfortable areas for all the watch aficionados who love to experience the ultra-creativity of these artisans.

The big flagship brands of the industry also attract many visitors. How can you best meet their expectations?
With 80,000 visitors, Baselworld is the only event that brings together all the actors in the Swiss and international watch industry; there is nowhere else that provides and generates such a dense amount of information, and such a plethora of contacts and opportunities. Over seven days, this unique concentration of figures from the watch and jewellery worlds are not only present in the heart of the industry, they can also take its pulse. Our vision is to transform and develop the fair, and make it not only the best business platform for the big brands, but also the most relevant experiential platform for the community.

What can VIP visitors expect?
This is another of our new initiatives. We have set up VIP Tours for watch enthusiasts and collectors. As soon as we launched them on our platform, they were an immediate success. If you reserve a VIP ticket, you will be welcomed by a professional guide in the Hospitality Lounge. You can visit the fair together, and gain access to personalised product presentations by one or two brands, depending on the programme. This 2- or 3-day package can be supplemented with limousine transfers, a visit to a watch manufacture, a museum visit, etc. It’s a unique and memorable experience for our international visitors.

Interview de Michel Loris-Melikoff

Independent WatchGallery © Baselworld

You have emphasised the role played by the brands in the transformation of Baselworld. Is it that important?
It’s crucial. Clearly, we cannot hope to transform Baselworld on our own. The brands themselves are beginning to create more and more experiential and interactive areas. It’s now up to us, with the help of all our exhibitors, to make the change towards greater openness and a climate of exchange. This process will take several years.

How can you ensure that the Swiss watchmaking industry sings from the same hymn sheet, at least once a year?
The desire for Swiss watchmakers to speak with a single voice comes primarily from clients, retailers and journalists, who have told us how hard it is to find the time to make several trips within the space of a few months, to discover what’s new in the industry. Clearly, our event has to press ahead with its metamorphosis, and even though we appear to be operating on the basis of a rather fragile alliance, a disunited industry is even more at the mercy of the smallest paradigm change. Over and above the strategic, economic and even personal stakes, we, as actors in the watch industry, carry a heavy responsibility. The world is changing, but one thing remains true: there is strength in unity. Baselworld can – and must – be the embodiment of this principle.

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