PARIS — Citing a decision by authorities to ban public gatherings in Switzerland to stem the spread of coronavirus, Baselworld has rescheduled its April show for January next year, casting further uncertainty on the future of the struggling event.
“Baselworld had no other option,” said the MCH group, organizer of the watch fair, in a statement, noting that construction in the show halls had been slated to start next week.
Organizers now want to hold the show on Jan. 28 to Feb. 2 next year.
“By postponing the show to January 2021, we have found a solution that enables the industry and all our customers to avoid losing a full year and at the same time reset their calendars for the beginning of the year, a period that is conductive to the presentation of their new products, new trends and order taking,” said Michel Loris-Melikoff, managing director of the event.
Baselworld had been scheduled to take place April 30 to May 5, following the Geneva event Watches & Wonders, formerly known as SIHH. The rival shows had coordinated their schedules in order to tap into traffic flows of visitors traveling to Switzerland.
But Watches & Wonders, which features labels belonging to Compagnie Financière Richemont, including Cartier and Vacheron Constantin and had been scheduled for April 25 to 29, was canceled Thursday.
Baselworld had already been suffering, and is struggling to bring back exhibitors, with Gucci and Bulgari the most recent examples of brands that opted out of the show. The rise of digital means have prompted watch labels to turn away from splashy trade fairs and communicate more directly with consumers. The disruption to business from coronavirus has further complicated the landscape for Swiss watch brands, which generate a large amount of business in Asia, which has been hard hit by the virus.
Swatch Group canceled its separate watch event for press and clients in early February, while Movado Group canceled its event in Davos on Thursday.