Watch Fairs Watch Fairs: What’s Next After Geneva?
Geneva appears to have ended up with a very big piece of the watch fair pie. The pandemic put paid to a number of initiatives before they even got off the ground. So, what’s happened to the other watch fairs?
Did you know that there are currently more than 40 watch and jewellery fairs worldwide? Some are local, others are continental. But what about the international ones? Since the demise of Baselworld (in its traditional form) there seems to be just one left: Watches & Wonders. At the time of writing, it’s still scheduled for 30 March to 5 April 2022 in Geneva. Born out of the SIHH, and driven by the Richemont group, it has become more vocal, more well-known and more efficient.
Watches and Wonders Shanghai © Watches and Wonders
One event, three challenges
Despite its ascent, it nevertheless remains subject to three challenges. First: it must not recreate in Geneva what had ceased to function in Basel; it can’t be too big, too expensive or too autocratic.
Second: it must be inclusive, without losing its identity as a human-scale event. Watches & Wonders already welcomes some 45 brands. Globally, there are far more brands hoping to join than there are leaving (like Audemars Piguet, Richard Mille, Van Cleef & Arpels and Greubel Forsey). It remains to be seen where the line between gigantism and intimacy will be drawn.
And the third challenge is all the issues raised by the pandemic, with its associated digitisation. Watches & Wonders is the heir to the SIHH, a Geneva institution that was never really able to expand outwards from its location or its physical presence. That issue has partly been resolved, given that the fair now also takes place in Shanghai and Sanya. That leaves digitisation: remote solutions were hurriedly brought in to help deal with the 2020 pandemic, and were adopted with remarkable ease. Now we need to ensure these developments stick, with the continuation of a global, annual, continuous online presence – themes on which the “new Baselworld” is extremely bullish, particularly in terms of its concept as a “phygital” platform.
Geneva Watch Days © Geneva Watch Days
On the American continent, the Salón Internacional Alta Relojería (SIAR) in Mexico City has become a major fixture on the calendar. It is currently scheduled to take place from 19 to 21 October. But, perhaps in an attempt to pre-empt fate, there was a pre-SIAR “Summer Experience” from 15 to 17 June, in which Hublot, Zenith, Bovet, Trilobe, Louis Moinet and Franck Muller, among others, took part.
The other major fair of the Americas happens in Las Vegas. The 30th anniversary JCK event will take place from 10 to 13 June 2022, but it focuses on jewellery rather than watchmaking, and watch brands represent only a tiny percentage of participants. To find watch-only content, you’ll have to go to New York, from 22 to 24 October 2021, for Watch Time New York.
Back in Europe
Apart from Watches & Wonders (confirmed), Baselworld (currently reawakening) there’s also Time To Watch (Geneva, 30 March to 5 April 2022). This fair is targeted at “creative and innovative brands” but little more is known about the project at this point. Geneva is likely once again to become the stage for Geneva Watch Days in August 2022. The 25 core participating brands have not been confirmed but, as one exhibitor noted a few weeks back, “It’s always good to send the market a signal of unity, of the brands’ ability to come together spontaneously to host a joint event.” The 2022 event would appear to be a foregone conclusion.
Finally, after the demise of “Les Montres”, Paris no longer has a dedicated watch fair, unless you count Bijorhca (3 September 2021), which focuses mainly on jewellery and accessory watches. It’s a shame for the French marketplace, but it will be possible to see the latest offerings from the watch industry in other world cities: Leipzig (Midora, September), Prague (Watches & Jewellery – Hodiny A Klenoty, September), and Abu Dhabi in the Middle East (JWS Salon des Grandes Complications, 26 to 30 October). Finally, Dubai Watch Week, founded in 2015 by Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons, is scheduled to take place from 24 to 28 November 2021.
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