The lat­est in­tel from the watch and jew­ellery world

Singapore Tatler Jewels & Time - - Contents - Text Nicolette Wong

The lat­est in­tel from the watch and jew­ellery world

Rumours of the demise of the Basel­world watch fair have been cir­cu­lat­ing in the in­dus­try amid news that an es­ti­mated 850 brands have pulled out over the past two years, in­clud­ing the whole of Mo­vado Group, which owns watch brands such as Mo­vado, Con­cord and Ebel. As a re­sult, sev­eral halls were closed and the fair was short­ened by two days.

The big­gest shock for Basel­world, how­ever, came in late July this year, when it was re­ported that Swatch Group would not be par­tic­i­pat­ing in Basel­world 2019. Swatch Group owns 18 watch brands, in­clud­ing the likes of Omega, Harry Win­ston, and Blanc­pain, and its cadre of brands usu­ally oc­cu­pied a large area of prime space in the main hall. The news was bro­ken by Swiss news­pa­per NZZ am Son­ntag, which quoted Nick Hayek, the CEO of the Swatch Group, as say­ing that the tra­di­tional an­nual watch fairs were no longer use­ful to the group be­cause “ev­ery­thing has be­come more trans­par­ent, faster-paced and more spon­ta­neous.” Hayek is not the only one to feel this way—brands are in­creas­ingly choos­ing to re­lease news of their watch nov­el­ties grad­u­ally over the course of the year. Richard Mille, for ex­am­ple, only pre­sented one watch at SIHH, with more nov­el­ties later in the year. Jew­ellery and watch pow­er­house Van Cleef & Arpels has also pulled out of SIHH 2019, de­spite be­ing part of Richemont Group, which runs the Jan­uary fair.

The ab­sence of Swatch Group might sig­nal the be­gin­ning of the end of Basel­world, the pil­lar of profit for or­gan­iser MCH Group, which also runs Art Basel. As Hayek said quite point­edly, “MCH is too busy op­ti­mis­ing and amor­tis­ing its ex­pen­sive new build­ing, in­stead of hav­ing the courage to make real progress and make pro­found changes.” Un­til those changes are made, more ex­hibitors are likely to leave the fair.

As brands leave Basel­world, its pull with jour­nal­ists, re­tail­ers, and col­lec­tors will also prob­a­bly wane

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