Chanel has joined Rolex, Patek Philippe, Chopard and Tudor in a dramatic group decision to quit Baselworld and create their own luxury watch salon in Geneva.
Instead, the five have created a new watch trade show in Geneva in collaboration with the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie. Its debut edition will be held in early April 2021 at Palexpo, at the same time as Watches & Wonders.
“This departure follows a number of unilateral decisions made without consultation by Baselworld management, including the postponement of the watch show until January 2021, as well as its inability to meet the brands’ needs and expectations,” read a joint statement from the five prestige brands released on Tuesday.
The new show, which will be linked to Watches & Wonders, organized by the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie, is to take place at Palexpo. Their joint goal is to create a fresh platform, “applying a shared vision to successfully meet future challenges in the watchmaking industry. It will also give crucial prominence to the sector’s expertise and innovations, both in Switzerland and internationally,” the breakaway group added.
“Other brands may also be added, according to terms that have not yet been defined. This new event will be geared predominantly towards retailers, the press and VIP customers,” they said.
The decision will be seen as a major setback for Baselworld, historically the key industry event in the watch and jewelry industry. Thirty years ago, Cartier led a posse of brands within the Richemont group out of Basel to create the rival and more upmarket Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie. This event later developed into Watches & Wonders. However, this new collective departure from Basel by such prestige marques seems even more dramatic. And a significant defeat for Basel.
“Like its partners, Chanel shares the same independence and the same desire to protect and promote the values, know-how, utmost quality and precision of Swiss Watchmaking. This initiative marks a key milestone in the history of Chanel Watchmaking and is part of a long-term strategy, which began with the launch of this activity in 1987. This exhibition will allow us to present all of our new creations in an environment that meets our high-quality standards,” said Frédéric Grangié, President of Chanel Watches & Fine Jewelry.
While Jean-Frédéric Dufour, CEO Rolex SA and Board Member, Montres Tudor SA, added: “We have taken part in Baselworld since 1939. Unfortunately, given the way the event has evolved and the recent decisions made by MCH Group, and in spite of the great attachment we had to this watch show, we have decided to withdraw. Following discussions initiated by Rolex, it seemed only natural to create a new event with partners that share our endless, unwavering support for the Swiss watchmaking sector.”
While at Chopard; the house noted that it had first exhibited at the Basel fair in 1964 with a stand of some 25 square meters. Its Co-President Karl-Friedrich Scheufele even called the departure from Baselworld, “a painful decision…Through the alliance, these grandes maisons will also be able to collaborate in promoting the values and best interests of Swiss watchmaking.”
Over at Patek Philippe, president Thierry Stern seemed to sum up the air of deep dissatisfaction with the organizers in Basel: “The decision to leave Baselworld was not an easy one to take for me, being the fourth generation of the Stern family to participate to this traditional yearly event. Today Patek Philippe is not in line with Baselworld’s vision anymore, there have been too many discussions and unsolved problems, trust is no longer present.”