The ripple effect of the deadly coronavirus is now so widespread that it’s preventing one of luxury’s toniest names, Bulgari, from getting to a trade show in Switzerland.
The revered Roman jeweler and watchmaker has officially pulled out of major watch trade show Baselworld 2020. Bulgari executives cited a combination of international travel restrictions and a successful showing at LVMH Watch Week last month as its primary motivations, according to Hodinkee.
Baselworld, alongside Watches & Wonders Geneva (the tradeshow previously known as SIHH), is Switzerland’s largest exhibition of the world’s finest timepieces. Shutting down its booth there is indicative of just how seriously the brand is taking the outbreak. However, Bulgari made a strong showing to an international coterie of journalists and clients during LVMH’s Dubai Watch Week in January.
The change also represents a meaningful fracture within the LVMH watch group—Bulgari’s sister brands Hublot, TAG Heuer, and Zenith have all chosen to partake in this year’s fair.
“The Watchmaking Division remains committed to Baselworld in 2020,” said TAG Heuer CEO Stéphane Bianchi said in a statement shortly after Bulgari’s announcement. “We believe in the importance of a major event for the Swiss watch industry and look forward to a successful fair, both in terms of image and sales, for our three Maisons.”
But Baselworld wouldn’t be the first affair to take a hit from the disease. The coronavirus epidemic already caused Swatch Group to cancel its Time to Move event, scheduled for the beginning of March. Other watch executives from the region told Hodinkee they were skeptical that the forthcoming festivities would go on as planned.
Baselworld director Michel Loris-Melikoff addressed Bulgari’s decision in a press release stating, “With regard to the coronavirus, we are monitoring the evolution of the situation closely with the authorities. To date, in Europe, all conferences and shows scheduled to be held around the same time frame as Baselworld 2020 are going ahead as planned, with no cancellations currently on record.” Bulgari made it known that it hopes to rejoin the fair in 2021.