For the last few years of Baselworld, the yearly gathering of watch sellers and collectors, something just seemed a little…off. That feeling was confirmed when, in 2020, five major watchmakers exited the Baselworld convention, many of them citing disorganization and a loss of trust. For many watchmakers, this was a momentous decision.
The very first watch exhibition in Basel, Switzerland took place at the turn of the century. A few watchmakers, such as Rolex, have been exhibiting in Basel since 1934. However, the conglomerate that runs Baselworld, the MGH Group, was known for having firm policies that weren’t always kind of exhibitors, including a hesitancy around refunds when it became clear that Baselworld 2020 would be canceled due to the pandemic. Once the show was canceled Rolex, CHANEL, Patek Philippe, Chopard, and Tudor announced they were leaving to establish a new watchmaking exhibition alongside Watches & Wonders Geneva, created in conjunction with Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie.
Watches & Wonders
Here at Everest Bands, we’re paying particular attention to the new and improved Watches & Wonders (formerly SIHH, and formerly held in January). The event will be held concurrently in Geneva and in Shanghai and is supported by many of the original brands that left Baselworld in the 2020 “Rolexit.” In an industry that changes slowly and by sometimes imperceptible degrees, the Basel shakeup has us interested in what Watches & Wonders will look like with the collective power of five brands behind it. Without being boxed in by a Baselworld timeline, new references no longer have to be announced in April, and brands can be more agile, digital, and innovative in the way they unveil products.
While this is certainly not common knowledge yet, our sources confirm that Rolex and Tudor absolutely will release new watch models at the Geneva show this April. We also have a few predictions of what those watches may be and we will be discussing them all on the blog later this week.
Watches and Wonders In Geneva
After considering having an in-person component for 2021, Watches & Wonders eventually decided on an all-digital, invite-only format for the Geneva portion of the exhibition, which is being held from April 7-13 on watchesandwonders.com. Over 40 brands are a part of the exhibition, and major announcements are expected from several prominent watchmakers. The timing is clearly meant to compete with the new HourUniverse event, an exhibition held by the former Baselworld governing body, MCH Group.
Watches and Wonders In Shanghai
In Shanghai, China, where the coronavirus is having less of an effect of public health due to an earlier wave of infections, Watches & Wonders has decided to host an in-person, invite-only event to view new models by watchmakers. Information about this exclusive event will likely start to surface in the last week of April, and we’re looking forward to hearing what is unveiled there.
Baselworld in one shape or form will still be held in 2021 in Basel, Switzerland, but it’s been completely re-envisioned and rebranded, perhaps to distance it from the sudden departure of major industry players in 2020. Baselworld has been transformed into HourUniverse, a “hybrid platform...with a year-round modern digital offer combined with a lively exchange independent of physical encounters,” in the words of the press release. In September 2020, probably when it became clear that Watches & Wonders intended to hold its event at the same time, HourUniverse canceled its April exhibition, and its website currently informs visitors that a new event is being planned for Summer 2021.
Exhibition Hopping? Grab a New Watch Strap.
The shuttering of the OG Baselworld to make way for HourUniverse, the creation of W&W, and a live event in Shanghai will forever change watch shows. With virtual aspects being ramped up and brands taking charge of their unveilings, 2020 watch exhibitions will look very different than those we’ve seen in previous years. Whether you’re planning on visiting one of the exhibitions in 2021 or streaming it all from the comfort of your own home, make sure your wrist rolls look picture perfect with a new aftermarket watch strap for your Rolex.