Watches & Wonders, now the world’s largest watch trade show after the cancellation of the longstanding Baselworld fair in Switzerland, is rethinking how it will present new releases for 2021. Scheduled to be held virtually for the second year in a row, during April 7 through April 13 in Geneva, this time around the affair will return to its roots in a more exclusive format for press, retailers and VIP collectors only. Last year, the digital platform was available to the public. The Shanghai edition, however, will take place a few days after Geneva with select guests invited to attend in person, thanks to an improving Covid-19 situation in China.
Geneva will be host to 40 brands including newcomers Louis Vuitton, Tag Heuer, Zenith and Bulgari of LVMH’s watchmaking division, as well as Rolex, Patek Philippe, Chopard, Chanel and Tudor. Those companies had long been loyal to Baselworld before pulling out last year after they collectively became disgruntled with the rising cost to exhibit (as well as price gauging at local hotels and restaurants) and show format. There will be 15 brands participating in the Shanghai show at the West Bund Art Center including Rolex, Tudor, Chopard and Ulysse Nardin for the first time.
New features have been added to Geneva’s digital edition including more opportunities to interact with the brands directly through live chats and streams. In addition to the standard product launches and partnership announcements, there will also be a live morning show that will offer a daily roundup of each day’s highlights, as well as panels and talks led by key industry figures and influencers.
The Chinese edition will become increasingly important, because of the chance for retailers and VIPs to see the new 2021 releases on the wrist. It will also offer live immersive workbench demonstrations and interactive experiences to learn about new technological innovations.
However, Watches & Wonders says that the opportunity for more physical events elsewhere may be added depending on whether or not the pandemic situation improves in the next couple of months. As for 2022, the show says it’s planning to resume exhibiting a live event at Geneva’s Palexpo location next spring. It will be the largest watch event ever to take place in the Swiss city.