PARIS — Reflecting the ongoing transformation of the Swiss watchmaking landscape, the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie, or SIHH, a key industry event, is changing its name to “Watches and Wonders Geneva.” The move corresponds to broader strategy changes, according to show organizers.
“What we are doing today is marking the beginning of an entire ‘Watches and Wonders’ ecosystem like a sort of club with the goal to celebrate watchmaking excellence everywhere in the world, 365 days a year —that’s the ambition of ‘Watches and Wonders,’” Fabienne Lupo, the chairwoman and managing director of the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie, organizer of the event, told WWD.
“‘Watches & Wonders’ is a global concept that celebrates fine watchmaking worldwide, with Geneva as its first destination,” said show organizers in a statement.
Show organizers are revisiting the calendar with an eye to kicking off the year with the Geneva event, as the Miami “Watches and Wonders” fair usually takes place in February while the Geneva fair moved from its customary January slot to April next year to be held just before rival trade fair Baselworld.
Faced with defections of watchmaking labels from their events, organizers last year took the unusual measure of coordinating show dates to tap into each other’s traffic flows. The two fairs have committed to holding their events back-to-back through 2024.
Next year, the Geneva-based fair, which is dominated by labels belonging to Compagnie Financière Richemont, is scheduled for April 26 to 29, while Baselworld will take place in Basel from April 30 to May 5.
Managers of the fair said they wanted to make it easier for visitors from outside Europe to attend both events.
Lupo said the fairs would seek to nudge the dates a bit earlier in April from 2021.
Now, the name change ushers in a new era for the high-end fair.
While the previous name worked well for the previous business-to-business model, the new one reflects a shift toward a broader audience.
“We needed a more attractive, glamorous name to make it resonate with the audience we’d like to draw into the show,” she said.
“It will maintain its professional purpose of bringing together the international watchmaking community — retailers, journalists, collectors, VIP guests of the various houses — that will be the fair format at Palexpo in Geneva,” she said, referring to the city’s exhibition hall.
“What’s new is the ‘In the City’ format which will be clearly for the public at large, for new audiences — younger generations, families, children, young people that want to learn about the skills and exceptional know-how behind the art of watchmaking — the idea is to bring watchmaking into the center of the Geneva,” she added, noting that it was surprising there was previously no major watchmaking event geared for the public in the city.
“It will be a sort of watchmaking fair around the city for five days,” she said.
In a statement, Cartier chief executive officer Cyrille Vigneron lauded the new name and format as strengthening the fair’s “international and interprofessional vocation.”