“Baselworld organizers are cancelling next year’s show,” wwd.com reports, “and have settled with departing labels, closing a fraught chapter in the Swiss watch event’s history.” As we predicted, as anyone with an ounce of common sense predicted, Baselworld is dead. Or is it? . . .
Reading the official statement penned by Rolex Director, Swiss Exhibitors’ Committee President and ornithologist Hubert J. du Plessix, you’d think Baselworld is evolving rather than finishing its march to extinction.
I welcome the constructive attitude of the representatives of the MCH Group, which has enabled us to find a balanced solution. I would also like to thank Patek Philippe, Rolex, Tudor, Chanel, Chopard, Hublot, Zenith and Tag Heuer, who, in a spirit of solidarity with the sector as a whole, have agreed to a lower refund so that the other exhibitors can benefit from better conditions.
MCH Group CEO Bernd Stadlwieser – who joined MCH in February 2019 – was probably itching to add “yeah, thanks for nothing” to Mssr. du Plessix’s parting shot. Instead, he joined hands with his colleague and issued this statement:
We are pleased to have worked together and, in just a short time, found a solution that is acceptable to everyone. In the light of the large loss of revenue due to COVID-19 and our responsibility to all our stakeholder groups, this solution marks the limit of what is possible for us. With the amicable settlement for Baselworld 2020, we can now concentrate fully on the future.
Right. COVID-19 killed Baselworld – not MCH’s imperious attitude towards exhibitors and Basel townfolks’ long standing tradition of gouging show-goers for everything from hotel room rates to sausages.
Needless to say, the final chapter in Baselworld’s long history is all about money. Threats? Bribery? Sorry, “accommodation.” Yeah that. And there’s a good chance the legal eagles/vultures aren’t done.
The “lower refund” mentioned in the Rolex guy’s statement? WatchPro.com reports that MCH is hanging onto two-thirds of the fee paid for Baselworld 2020 and thus 2021. The big boys may have signed off on the deal, but the little guys are pissed.
When the final history of Baselworld is written it will be written in court. Then again, the final settlement will probably involve some kind of non-disclosure agreement. We may never hear the full story.
Wouldn’t it be ironic if Baselworld reforms itself into a smaller show for smaller watch brands even as Watches & Wonders reforms itself into an epic show like ye olde Baselworld?
I don’t think there’s room for two industry watch shows based in Switzerland. If there was before, there isn’t now. Not with the watch industry living through the smartwatch crisis and the Internet destroying the traditional marketing model.
So again, stick a fork in Baselworld. It’s done.