Baselworld - outside the show hall

PARIS — Struggling watch trade fair Baselworld has reined in a departed watch label with promises of a new kind of exhibit space at next year’s edition, show organizers said Thursday.

The idea of a so-called “community district” — a cluster of structures to be set up in the main hall of the trade fair, sprang up from conversations with potential and departed watch brand exhibitors, according to a statement from officials Thursday.

Maurice Lacroix, a Swiss-based maker of automatic watches, will return to the show and exhibit in the new space.

The area will be made up of several large structures with two to three brands in each, with modern architecture and private business spaces and “experience” areas for the general public, according to the show organizer’s description.

Baselworld is struggling to reinvent its model following a series of defections, including high-profile Swatch group labels like Omega, Breguet and Longines, followed by Audemars Piguet, Richard Mille and Breitling. Watchmakers have cited the evolving nature of how they interact with clients as one of the reasons for their departures, preferring to spend money on more intimate meetings than band together with splashy show stands.

Meanwhile, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton-owned labels Bulgari, Hublot, Tag Heuer and Zenith have thrown their support behind Baselworld next year, keeping the show afloat while organizers reconsider the trade show format.

Baselworld coordinated with rival fair Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie, known as SIHH, and rescheduled next year’s event to follow the Geneva fair, allowing fairgoers from abroad to hit both with one trip. Baselworld takes place next year from April 30 to May 5, but organizers have declined to comment on future dates, despite industry reports that the show may move to an earlier time slot in the year.

Baselworld has been working to reinforce ties with the jewelry industry, bulk up outreach to the public and earlier this month unveiled a Luxury Venture Group, a self-described Swiss-based luxury start-up incubator. The pair described their partnership as seeking to develop an international ecosystem for startups in watches and jewelry, with an eye to innovation, digitalization and sustainability, without providing details of the plans.

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