Swatch Group, the biggest watchmaker of the industry, announced that by 2019 it would not participate in the Baselworld Watch Exhibition.
Baselworld Watch Fair, one of the two most important global events of the watch industry together with SIHH, is losing one of its most important participants by 2019. The Swatch Group, which hosts the 18 watch brands from different segments under the same roof and bears the title of the world's largest watchmaker, is leaving Baselworld.
The trade show, which has been in operation since 1917, has lost a significant amount of its participants due to the global crisis experienced in 2016, and because of that situation, it has narrowed the reserved area for the fair and reduced the exhibition period from 8 days to 6 days. The fair, which is considered the most important organization of today's watchmaking industry, with its modern building that costed CHF 430 million, received one of the most important impacts of its history with the departure of Swatch Group, which is among its most important participants.
The shocking news was heard on last Sunday through the NZZ am Sonntag (Swiss) Newspaper. The comments by Nick Hayek, who is among the cult names of the watchmaking industry and is in the position of Swatch Group CEO, were remarkable.
“Mr. Hayek explains that the costs of such fair are extremely high for the group and its brands – in excess of CHF 50 Million for the group, including travel expenses and accommodations. “Such watchmaking fairs are no more relevant for Swatch Group,” added Hayek.”
In fact, I am not that surprised to hear the news because I was expecting such actions from brands as we (with our Executive Editor in Chief Mr. Serdar OAL) were talking about our impressions of this year’s Baselworld Exhibition. OAL mentioned about the deteriorating concept of the exhibition and highlighted the importance of digital media and digital platforms. The surprising for me however, was to see a giant manufacturer like Swatch Group, which hosts 18 different brands such as Breguet, Blancpain, Omega, Glashutte Original, Tissot, Longines and Hamilton, among the first names that leave Baselworld.
How does this situation affect the industry? More precisely, will it create a domino effect? It is difficult to answer these questions now. As long as the fair concept continues as it is today, there is no doubt that its participants will continue to leave, so a gradual domino effect seems inevitable - even if it is not related directly to the Swatch Group’s decision. However, I cannot predict which brands will follow the Swatch Group. We shall indeed see…