baselworld 2019; impression; hall 1.0; central plaza

PARIS — Watches & Wonders Geneva and Baselworld may not be happening this spring, but a new event has sprung up: Geneva Watch Days.

A handful of labels including Bulgari, Breitling, Ulysse Nardin and Girard-Perregaux said they will hold the event, which they describe as decentralized and self-managed, at several high-end hotels in Geneva from April 26 to 29, coinciding with the original dates for Watches & Wonders Geneva, formerly known as SIHH.

In a statement, Bulgari chief executive officer Jean-Christophe Babin said the participating brands are in advanced discussions with other labels, including Chopard and H. Moser & Cie., which might join as well.

The idea is to band together so that retailers and media can meet with the brands over a few days instead of going to various road shows organized in different cities around Europe. 

Organizers said a steering committee will negotiate showrooms and hotel rates, and work with relevant local and national authorities to ensure safety measures are followed.

Baselworld was canceled last week following a decision by Swiss authorities to ban public gatherings in Switzerland to stem the spread of coronavirus, and rescheduled for next January.

In their statement Monday, organizers of the Geneva Watch Days event said it is not meant as a substitute of the two “long-term historical” fairs, but it casts further uncertainty on splashy events that are struggling to maintain relevance.

The new Geneva event is being presented as an “efficient alternative at a smaller scale,” that ensures visibility for participating brands as a way to fight the ”slow down and gloominess” of the industry. 

Local official Pierre Maudet, who is Geneva’s state councilor, said the city supported the effort, which follows the recent cancellations of the Geneva Motorshow and Watches & Wonders. 

Baselworld in Basel had been scheduled to take place April 30 to May 5, following the Geneva event Watches & Wonders, formerly known as SIHH. Already suffering from defections last year, the rival shows had taken the rare move of coordinating their schedules in order to tap into traffic flows of visitors traveling to the Alpine country.

Watches & Wonders, which features labels belonging to Compagnie Financière Richemont, including Cartier and Vacheron Constantin and had been scheduled for April 25 to 29, was canceled last week.

Swatch Group canceled its separate watch event for press and clients in early February, while Movado Group last week canceled its Davos event.

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