Baselworld exhibitor Breguet is among Swatch group brands that won't attend the fair next year

PARIS — In the latest episode of the ongoing Swiss watch trade fair saga, Swatch Group said Wednesday some of its brands plan to meet with retailers in Zurich in March.

The world’s largest watchmaker and owner of labels including Longines, Tissot, Breguet and Omega, Swatch sent Baselworld organizers into a tailspin earlier this year by pulling out of show, which will take place next in March.

“At the request of so many retailers who absolutely wanted to see us during their presence in Switzerland in March 2019, some of our brands, especially in the luxury range, have agreed to welcome and jointly meet them in Zurich,” the Swatch Group press office said in an e-mailed response to questions about the plans.

Reuters reported that Swatch Group sent out invitations marked “Time to Move” to watch retailers, mentioning the dates March 19 to 26.

Baselworld, which takes place in Basel, about an hour’s drive from Zurich, will be held this year from March 21 to 26.

Following months of rumblings of discontent and calls for change in the traditional trade fair format — including its costs — news of Swatch’s departure came as a bombshell, prompting upheaval that reached the highest levels of Baselworld’s organization, including the replacement of its managing director and the chief executive officer of its parent company, MCH Group.

The watchmaker said the format was ill-adapted to faster-moving and more transparent times.

Baselworld and its upscale rival, the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie, known as SIHH, announced Tuesday plans to shift their calendars to take place back-to-back in April and May, starting in 2020.

SIHH is held in Geneva and takes place next in January 2019. The show is dominated by labels belonging to Compagnie Financière Richemont, including Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels, as well as Kering brands Ulysse Nardin and Girard-Perregaux, and an earlier Baselworld defector, Hermès.