2020 proved to be quite a challenge with regards to hosting in-person trade fairs, and although online alternatives accelerated the digital revolution within the industry, there is no doubt that in-person viewing and buying is still very much the norm.
The organizer of the BaselWorld show, the MCH Group, has announced they are cancelling the 2021 edition of the show - slated for end of January beginning of February next year after negotiating an "amicable settlement" with some of the major brands who recently announced their departure from the show.
Five major watch brands, Rolex, Patek Phiippe, Tudor, Chanel and Chopard today announced they will be leaving BaselWorld. The exit follows a letter by Rolex topman Hubert du Plessix pleading for a refund for the brands set to participate in the canceled 2020 edition. In a joint statement, the brands announced they plan to start a new show, which remains unnamed, scheduled for April 2021, in conjunction with the organizers of Watches & Wonders (FHH).
According to Swiss newspaper “Le Temps” the world’s largest luxury watch and jewelry show, Baselworld, is in danger of becoming extinct. The newspaper cites from a leaked letter from angry exhibitors, who are threatening to turn their backs on the fair for good, if they aren’t reimbursed fully for costs already made for this year’s – canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic – edition. According to the article, the exhibitors were offered a financial agreement which they believe is inadequate and they demand a full refund.
Following yesterday's announcement of the cancellation of the Geneva 'Watches & Wonders', Baselworld has followed suit, postponing the luxury event until January 2021 on account of the coronavirus. The organization has published the following announcement:
With the 2019 edition of Baselworld getting underway Thursday, Graff Diamonds has revealed two of the three Fancy Vivid Yellow Diamond watches to be showcased. Yellow diamonds are extremely rare, so it takes patience - and good contacts - to collect enough to set them in a timepiece or a piece of jewelry; it can take years to source enough stones of the same color, intensity and size. Each watch is built in 18-karat yellow gold to underscore the brilliance of the watch's diamonds, and each features round and fancy oval diamonds that are meticulously set by hand.
Following the recent announcement by CEO Nick Hayek Jr. that the Swatch Group would be packing up its 18 brands - including Omega - and its approximately 50-million dollar budget and heading for the exit at BaselWorld, the renowned watch and jewelry trade fair is facing a future of uncertainty. Hayek's statement about Swatch's departure was blunt and clear as a bell: “Today everything has become more transparent, fast-moving, and instantaneous ... In this new context, annual watch fairs, as they exist today, no longer make much sense. This does not mean that they should disappear.
The longstanding Managing Director of Baselworld, Sylvie Ritter, has decided to step down from her position at the MCH Group, which runs Baselworld. Michel Loris-Melikoff, who has until now held the position of Director of MCH Beaulieu Lausanne SA, will succeed her. The Group says that Ritter decided to hand over the management of the World Watch and Jewellery Show: "After 26 years with the MCH Group – 15 of which were as Managing Director of Baselworld – it's time for me to start something new and take on new challenges", says Sylvie Ritter in explaining her decision.
"The organizers of Baselworld, the world’s largest watch and jewelry fair, have recognized that it is in a state of decline," writes Anthony DeMarco for Forbes. "At a time when the fair has reached the milestone of 100 years, fair organizers announced that they are reducing the 2018 edition by two days and cutting prices for exhibitors, following several years of exhibitor and attendance declines." The organization announced in a press release that visitor figures were down 4% to 106,000 buyers.
The Timex Group Swiss Luxury Division - which manages the watch business for luxury fashion brands Salvatore Ferragamo, Versace, Versus and Nautica through licensing agreements - is the latest company to leave the Baselworld watch and jewelry show, writes Anthony DeMarco for Forbes. According to Paolo Marai, president and CEO of the division of the Timex Group, the money the company spends participating in Baselworld - $3 million - could be better spent elsewhere. “I think that Baselworld is a huge investment for everybody and is in my opinion losing some effectiveness,” he said.
Diamond industry analyst Ehud Arye Laniado reflects on uncertainties and lingering questions about the direction the diamond trade is taking in the wake of BaselWorld, and wonders whether it is even appropriate to sell loose diamonds at such a high-luxury show? We have selected a few choice comments: "Business [in the diamond section] was not good. This luxury-oriented show is not a good fit for small goods or even 1-2 carat items.
The number of exhibitors, buyers and visitors to the eight-day Baselworld tradeshow, which closed on March 24, declined by 3% on the 2015 show to 145,000 people from more than 100 countries, organizers said in a statement. There were also 4,400 media representatives, an increase of just over 2% from last year. Many attendees spoke of the reduced foot traffic, particularly in the halls where exhibitors of loose diamonds and gemstones were located.
Over halfway through BaselWorld – still the number one appointment in the global luxury watch and high-end jewelry industry – the warm spring sun and blue skies of the first days in Basel have given way to a cool 6 C° and bland, grey skies. Much like the temperature, the mood has dropped significantly as well. Last year, after five years of consecutive growth, Swiss watch exports fell 3.3% globally, echoing the struggle the entire luxury segment has been experiencing for the past year and a half.
The Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) is to add colored gemstones to its material coverage following discussions with its members, external stakeholders and the colored-gemstone sector over the past five years, the trade body announced in a press release at the BaselWorld tradeshow. Currently, the RJC covers diamonds, gold and platinum-group metals. The RJC will next revise its code of practices in 2017.
The Russian company New Diamond Technology (NDT) yesterday presented an emerald-cut blue diamond, 5.03-carat, VS1 high-pressure, high-temperature (HPHT) type-IIb stone at BaselWorld. It is the largest synthetic blue diamond to date and was certified by the International Gemological Institute (IGI). NDT is one of the founding members of the new International Grown Diamond Association.
Rob Bates (JCK) reports during the Basel Show, GGTL Laboratories discovered a small CVD synthetic diamond F color, IF clarity in a parcel of around 6,000 natural diamonds that were purchased in India. The lab also recently found a melee-sized vivid yellow in a parcel from Hong Kong. Bates adds the finds are no need for panic but highlight the importance of having stones tested and buying from trusted sources.
A session on the regulation of conflict minerals at the BaselWorld show by the Responsible Jewellery Council was attended by 45 delegates from many diamond and jewelry industry related organizations including CIBJO, BJOP, the GIA, Cartier, Signet, and representatives of banks and NGOs.
Baselworld's Buyer Attendance Declines 3%
Aaron Shum Jewelry and Coronet Diamonds provided a sparkling Guinness Book of World Records attraction – designed with flora and other nature motifs, the guitar is made of 1.6 kg of 18K gold and set with more than 400 carats of diamonds.