PARIS — Rolex, Richemont’s watchmaking division, Cartier and Patek Philippe have teamed together to launch the Watches and Wonders Geneva Foundation, the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie announced on Thursday.
The show’s second edition is slated to take place from March 27 to April 2 in Geneva.
After the return to a physical format in 2022, creating a new organization that reflected the arrival of important watchmaking names like Patek Philippe and Rolex in Geneva was the obvious next step, said Matthieu Humair, the incumbent chief executive officer of the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie, who will now also serve as CEO of the new body.
“Its mission will be organizing watchmaking shows in Geneva but also elsewhere in the world across the Watches and Wonders ecosystem,” he told WWD in an interview, noting that Shanghai or the U.S. were among possibilities “depending on the demands of exhibiting brands.”
The new foundation will be managed by a board headed by chairman Jean-Frédéric Dufour, who is Rolex’s chief executive officer. Emmanuel Perrin, president of the Watches and Wonders fair’s organizing body, Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie, and leader of the Specialist Watchmakers division at Compagnie Financière Richemont, will serve as vice chairman.
An exhibiting committee, made of representatives of participating brands, will oversee operational decision-making.
Among its first moves was opening to the public, who will be able to purchase tickets for April 1 and 2, the closing weekend of the show. Tickets will be sold at 70 Swiss francs in early 2023.
“It was a longstanding desire of the exhibiting brands, particularly given the growing importance of the business-to-consumer angle,” continued Humair, who described the move as congruent with the desire to turn Geneva into a watch-focused destination and make the city come alive with a week’s worth of watchmaking content.
Though some may see competition heating up in the shape of the Geneva Watch Days, positioned in late August and organized at the initiative of seven brands including Breitling, Bulgari, De Bethune, H. Moser & Cie and Ulysse Nardin, Humair saw opportunity to further the industry’s reach.
“The more people talk about watchmaking, the better,” he said. “Today, watchmaking needs to exist all year long, so we are thrilled to see this initiative come to life.”
For the 2023 edition of Watches and Wonders Geneva, 49 brands are slated to show during the seven-day showcase, including newcomers Bell & Ross and Frédérique Constant, up from 38 in this year’s edition.
They will join last year’s participants which included the four foundation founders as well as Chanel, Chopard, Hermès, Tudor, Tag Heuer, Van Cleef & Arpels, Zenith in a heady mix of Richemont and LVMH-owned brands, plus major players and independent watchmakers, shown in the Carré des Horlogers.
The full program of the 2023 edition is expected in late January.