Baselworld fair

PARIS — MCH Group, the trade show organizer behind the former Baselworld watch fair, has launched a new platform called “HourUniverse,” for buyers and sellers in the watches, jewelry and gemstone industries, which will hold an event in April in Basel, Switzerland.

“With Baselworld having been put to rest, the MCH teams have put all their expertise and the feedback from customers, buyers, visitors into giving birth to a new platform concept,” the company said.

MCH teams took two months to probe industry players and draw up the new format, which is meant to be open and inclusive, “to unite and support a whole community that wants to regroup, make a new start and is receptive to change,” it also said. The global, digital platform was designed with end consumers in mind, but will also serve businesses seeking new distribution and marketing solutions. Plans are to hold virtual and live activities throughout the year.

Baselworld had suffered a stream of departures since 2018, but was dealt a final blow this spring when the last of the large labels involved decided to leave. In May, MCH settled with the departed brands, which included Rolex, Patek Philippe and Chanel. 

While the relevance of splashy trade shows has come under question with the rise of digital channels that allow brands to communicate directly with consumers, high-end watch labels are continuing to group together, with Baselworld’s former heavyweights now planning to hold their own show in Geneva next April alongside the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie’s rival event, Watches and Wonders.

Formerly known as SIHH, the Geneva showcase is dominated by labels belonging to Compagnie Financière Richemont, including Cartier, Piaget and Jaeger-LeCoultre. The physical event was cancelled this year, due to the coronavirus lockdowns, so organizers set up an online platform to show new watch launches. Watches & Wonders is also taking eleven labels to Shanghai for a show in September, for the first time.

And more than a dozen labels have decided to host events in Geneva at the end of August, for Geneva Watch Days, including Bulgari, which belongs to LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, and Kering-owned Ulysse Nardin and Girard-Perregaux. The activities will be held from Aug. 26 to 29 at stores and hotels in the city center.

MCH said the HourUniverse’s event would be coordinated with watchmaking events in Geneva in order to allow international travelers to make one trip to attend the various events.