Michel Loris-Melikoff

PARIS — HourUniverse, the successor to the former Baselworld watch industry trade show geared toward smaller brands, is planning to hold a live gathering this summer in Basel, Switzerland, with indoor and outdoor networking venues, organizers said Wednesday.

“Our ongoing discussions with industry stakeholders have clearly demonstrated that the demand from the wider community for a large annual gathering in Switzerland, in the heart of Europe, is now stronger than ever,” said Michel Loris-Melikoff, managing director of the show geared to the watches and jewelry industry, organized by MCH Group.

Organizers had initially planned to hold their show in early April. They drew up the event last year to regroup smaller labels following the departure from Baselworld of industry heavyweights including Rolex, Patek Philippe and Chanel.

The show will feature a new, outdoor square that extends the event into the city, with outdoor catering and public entertainment areas.

Baselworld had suffered a stream of departures in recent years, starting with Movado in 2018 — executives said it was less expensive to invite guests to their own summit in Davos. Swatch Group, with labels such as Breguet and Omega, which traditionally dominated the central hallway of the Basel exhibit space, was next to pull out, citing the need for a different approach.

The rise of digital channels cast uncertainty on the relevance of splashy trade shows, since those channels offered labels a direct link to consumers.

But high-end watch labels are continuing to group together, with Baselworld’s former heavyweights, including brands belonging to LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, now joining Watches and Wonders Geneva, which has emerged as the industry’s main global event. Formerly known as SIHH, the Geneva showcase features Compagnie Financière Richemont brands, like Cartier and Jaeger-LeCoultre. Rolex, Patek Philippe and Chanel also signed up for that show, which is set for April 7 to 13, with 40 exhibiting labels, followed by a  physical event in Shanghai with 15 brands.

Geared toward the smaller labels that would show at Baselworld, MCH teams said they came up with HourUniverse after two months of probing industry players. The new format is meant to be open and inclusive, offering a global, digital platform with end consumers in mind, as well as businesses seeking new distribution and marketing solutions.

Before taking the reins of Baselworld in 2018, Loris-Melikoff organized Switzerland’s largest techno parade.

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