BY HARLAN CHAPMAN-GREEN
On the morning of the 12th of November, I and everyone else subscribed to press alerts from the Baselworld team received an email stating that Baselworld 2022 will not go ahead. You might have seen that the folks running the show there now had organised an event earlier this year as a get-together with some brands. It seems that whoever is left at Baselworld has spoken up about the challenges faced with re-igniting the flame of this once great name.
The MCH Group, which runs the annual Baselworld show, has been facing a decline in interest and popularity since 2018 when the Swatch Group withdrew from the annual show taking eighteen separate entities with it. Several high-level departures followed, including Bulgari, Casio and Grand Seiko, but in April of last year, the real killer-blow was landed when Rolex, Patek Philippe, Chopard, Chanel and Tudor (the remaining main attractions, Omega left with the Swatch Group) also announced their departure due to a disagreement with the MCH Group about handling the fees for the show that was cancelled due to the global pandemic. In layman’s terms, the MCH Group was holding hostage the money of the big brands, claiming they needed to cover costs and could carry over the money to the following year’s shows with no chance of negotiation. With no solution apparent, they all left to join SIHH, which was rebranded as Watches & Wonders – Geneva, and Baselworld as we knew it was over.
Friday’s email seems to confirm my suspicions, that the folks at the MCH Group are desperate in their search for things to keep them relevant. Following this announcement, the current Baselworld Managing Director, Michel Loris-Melikoff, will also be stepping down and seeking employment elsewhere. Assuming the fatuous plans for the cancelled show were his idea, I imagine he won’t be very popular in the horology world.
It seems then that, with the cancellation of Baselworld 2022 altogether, Watches & Wonders will remain as the big attraction. It has nearly every prominent name (except the Swatch Group brands) present, and having it based in Geneva makes a lot more sense from a logistics view. We have always thought that SIHH was the restrained and enjoyable show while Baselworld was always hectic. Perhaps now things will be the opposite.