Five Major Watch Brands, Including Rolex, Leave Baselworld & Start New Watch Trade Show In Geneva

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, five luxury watch brands have decided to exit from participating in the annual Baselworld Fair for a new watch trade show in Geneva, in collaboration with Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH). These brands are CHANEL, Rolex, Patek Philippe, Chopard and Tudor. This new trade show will take place a year from now at Palexpo in Geneva, at the same time as Watches & Wonders. Though participation is confirmed only by these five brands, others may follow suit at a later date. Executives from each of the brands and a Council representative from FHH, released statements.

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Jean-Frédéric Dufour, CEO of Rolex SA and Board Member of Montres Tudor SA: “We have taken part in Baselworld since 1939. Unfortunately, given the way the event has evolved and the recent decisions made by MCH Group, and in spite of the great attachment we had to watch this show, we have decided to withdraw. Following discussions initiated by Rolex, it seemed only natural to create a new event with partners that share our vision and our endless, unwavering support for the Swiss watchmaking sector. This will allow us to present our new watches in line with our needs and expectations, to join forces and better defend the interests of the industry.”

BASELWORLD X ROLEXPhoto Credit: Shutterstock

Thierry Stern, President of Patek Philippe: “The decision to leave Baselworld was not an easy one to take for me, being the fourth generation of the Stern family to participate to this traditional yearly event. But life evolves constantly, things change and people change as well, whether it is at the level of those responsible for the watch fair organization, the brands or the clients. We constantly have to adapt ourselves, question what we do, since what was right yesterday may not necessarily be valid today! Today Patek Philippe is not in line with Baselworld’s vision anymore, there have been too many discussions and unsolved problems, trust is no longer present. We need to answer the legitimate needs our retailers, the clients sand the press from around the world. They have to be able to discover the new models from Swiss watchmakers each year, at one time, in one place, and this in the most unprofessional manner possible. That is why, following several discussions with Rolex and in agreement with other participating brands, we have decided to create, all together, a unique event in Geneva, representative of our savoir-faire.”

Frédéric Grangié, President of Chanel Watches & Fine Jewelry: “Like its partners, CHANEL shares the same independence and the same desire to protect and promote the values, know-how, utmost quality and precision of Swiss Watchmaking. This initiative marks a key milestone in the history of CHANEL Watchmaking and is part of a long-term strategy, which began with the launch of this activity in 1987. This exhibition will allow us to present all of our new creations in an environment that meets our high-quality standards.

Chanel-J12-2Photo Credit: CHANEL

Karl-Friedrich Schaufele, Co-President of Chopard et Cie SA: “Chopard first exhibited at the Basel fair in 1964 with a stand of some 25 square meters. After careful condideration, our family decided to support the Rolex initiative and retire from Baselworld—a painful decision. The creation of the new watch show in Geneva, in parallel to Watches & Wonders, will allow us to better serve our watchmaking partners and our customers. Through the alliance, these grandes maisons will also be able to collaborate in promoting the values and best interests of Swiss watchmaking.”

Jérôme Lambert, on behalf of the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie Council: “The Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie is delighted to welcome a new salon, which will strengthen the historical Watches & Wonders event in Geneva next year in April.”