PARIS — In a bid for survival, watchmaker trade shows Baselworld and the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie, known as SIHH, have shifted their calendars to take place back-to-back, starting in 2020.
“This partnership between the two most prominent exhibitions in the industry represents a major breakthrough for the future,” said Michel Loris-Melikoff, managing director of Baselworld.
The move comes amid an exodus of high-profile labels from the trade shows, most notably Swatch group, which includes Omega, Breguet and Longines, from Baselworld, announced in July. In September, Audemars Piguet and Richard Mille said they would leave SIHH, following the January edition in 2019. Both watchmakers cited the evolving nature of how they interact with clients as one of the reasons for their departures.
Under the new arrangement, starting in 2020, SIHH, traditionally held in January in Geneva, will be moved to April 26 to 29. Baselworld, meanwhile, will take place in Basel from April 30 to May 5. Show organizers stressed their intention to make it easier for visitors from outside Europe to attend both events.
“Our two events have always been different, yet complementary,” said Fabienne Lupo, president and managing director of SIHH organizer the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie.
The coordination between the rival trade shows symbolizes broader change in the industry, as Swiss watchmakers face competition from the Apple Watch while the rise of digital commerce is reshaping the way labels present products to consumers.
Critics of the trade shows have pointed to the costs associated with the splashy events, including Movado Group. The watch manufacturer, which has its own brands as well as licenses for Tommy Hilfiger, Juicy Couture, Coach and Lacoste, pulled out Baselworld last year and used the funds to invite some 300 guests to Davos, Switzerland, for a four-day summit.
Executives said the cost of the Movado event would come to only 20 percent of what the group normally spent on the fair, allowing them to invest the remaining funds on bolstering digital channels.