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Swatch Group calls time on Baselworld

Swiss watch behemoth Swatch Group will not be returning to watch trade fair Baselworld in 2019.

According to reports published yesterday in Switzerland’s NZZam Sonntag newspaper, the group, which owns 18 watch brands including Breguet, Blancpain, Omega, Longines, Tissot, Rado, Jaquet Droz, Glashutte Original and Hamilton as well as the licenses for Harry Winston timepieces and Calvin Klein Watches and Jewelry, will not show at the next edition of the global trade event, scheduled to take place in March 2019.

Swatch Group chief executive Nick Hayek was quoted in NZZam Sonntag as saying: “The Swatch Group has decided not to be present at Baselworld from 2019.”

The news of Swatch Group’s decision to withdraw from the fair comes just two months after the announcement that BaselWorld’s managing director Sylvie Ritter was to step down from her position with the watch and jewellery show after 15 years at the helm.

Speaking to NZZam Sonntag of Swatch Group’s decision, Hayek continued: “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.

Hyek was scathing in his summary of Baselworld show organisers, the MCH Group, saying that the company seemed more concerned with optimizing its new building than it was with bringing about real change to the fair.

Swatch Group is not the first name to withdraw from Baselworld. At this year’s 2018 edition Movado Group and its associated brands were notable by their absence along with the likes of Guess Watches and Rotary.

As a result, this year’s edition of the show saw a significant reduction in the number of exhibitors, in what organisers described as a “more focused” fair.

The Swatch Group’s brands occupied a large section of Baselworld’s famous Hall 1.

There have also been rumours of several other high-profile departures on the watch side ahead of next year’s show includeing the likes of Breitling. However, these are, as yet, unconfirmed. 

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