Can you imagine the watch world without Baselworld? The highly-anticipated yearly event gives collectors, investors, manufacturers, and brands the opportunity to mix, mingle, and show off some serious product. There are events, panel discussions, super-rare timepieces, and an exhibition hall of people who are just as into watches as you are. It’s a meeting of the minds, a tribal gathering. It’s a place to see and be seen and to gather intel about what’s new and next in watches. It’s also just been obliterated.
Well, kind of. It’s more accurate to say Baselworld has been rebranded, an unusual move because of the power, history, and significance of the Baselworld name. (The first exhibition was in the 1930s, after all.) Newcomers to horology are sometimes confused by the conflation of a watch exhibition with the Swiss city, but for longtime collectors, Basel and watches are inexorably linked. Baselworld has been reborn as HourUniverse, a pun-laden portmanteau that probably sounds super classy when a Swiss person says it. The watch world is asking: why the sudden move in a different direction?
HourUniverse will be planned and executed by the MCH Group, the same force behind Baselworld. Sure, Baselworld will always be Baselworld in terms of what it provides to attendees and vendors. A name change doesn’t always signify a change of agenda, so it’s likely that major standbys at the event will remain the same. Yet the move away from the tradition-laden name may indicate a new perspective on horology, although it remains to be seen what that perspective might be.
Press releases about the name and identity change are breathless and ecstatic, as PR releases usually are. MCH conceptualizes HourUniverse as a “a hybrid platform...with a year-round modern digital offer combined with a lively exchange independent of physical encounters." Although the wording is a little obscure, it seems like MCH wants to move HourUniverse into the digital space, providing online releases and activities instead of or in addition to one large multi-day event. This is a wise pivot in a post-COVID world. However, there will still be a major exhibition event, which is scheduled to take place from April 8-12, 2021 in Basel, Switzerland at the same site Baselworld was held.
A new, sleek website has been put up to promote the new event, and most of the Baselworld website now contains redirect links to this new site. Exhibitor names haven’t yet been released, so we’ll be watching carefully to see who signs up to support MCH’s new vision for HourUniverse. A virtual version of the April 8-12 exhibition will be streamed, but more information is forthcoming. MCH is also going to offer a networking service called Matchmaker that will allow attendees and exhibitors to connect digitally before and after the event through a private messaging and connecting service.
We, here at Everest Bands, are looking forward to learning more about HourUniverse over the next few months and hopefully attending the in-person event in April 2021. When it comes to seeing new watches in person and networking with fellow aficionados, it’s go time. Or, in the words of HourUniverse’s enigmatic tagilne: It’s We Time.
We couldn’t agree more. Goodbye Baselworld, and Long Live HourUniverse!
Written by Meghan Clark
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