According to an article up on NZZamSontag published this weekend, the Swatch Group will not be returning to the annual showcase Baselworld next year. Baselworld had so far been the biggest watch and jewellery fair in the industry, attended by the likes of Rolex, Patek Philippe, Chopard, and LVMH watch companies including TAG Heuer, Bulgari, and Zenith Watches, as well.
Swatch Group CEO Nick Hayek was quoted as saying "The Swatch Group has decided not to be present at Baselworld from 2019,"
and his company was "not there to amortise an expensive hall designed by Herzog & de Meuron,"
referring to the exhibition venue in Basel that was opened in 2013.
With 18 brands that includes Swatch, Omega, Longines, Blancpain, Harry Winston, Breguet, Jaquet Droz, Glashutte Original, the Swatch Group is the largest Swiss watch manufacturer and its departure adds to the woes of the exhibition which in recent years has seen significant number of brands dropping off its show calendar, as well as falling visitor traffic.
In the past two years, Baselworld has seen approximately 850 exhibitors leaving, representing a massive drop of 57% from 2016. For the 2018 edition, 650 of last year's 1,300 exhibitors did not return. Attendance had also fallen by about 30% from its 2014 high to just over 100,000 for 2017 and 2018, respectively. In addition, Sylvie Ritter the managing director of Baselworld for the last 15 years was replaced earlier this year, a sign that the times needed a changing. The NZZ am Sonntag ( NZZaS ) is a Sunday newspaper published in Zurich. Source Update 30 July
The Swatch Group has released a statement, saying "Today everything has become more transparent, fast-moving, and instantaneous. Accordingly, a different rhythm and a different approach is needed. ... In this new context, annual watch fairs, as they exist today, no longer make much sense. This does not mean that they should disappear. But it is necessary that they reinvent themselves, responding appropriately to the current situation and demonstrating more dynamism and creativity. ... The MCH Group, which organizes Baselworld, is clearly more concerned with optimizing and amortizing its new building – which, incidentally, is largely financed by the watch industry during the fairs – than it is in having the courage to make real progress and to bring about true and profound changes. For all these reasons, Swatch Group has decided that from 2019 onwards, it will no longer be present at Baselworld."