Industry / Shows / Watches

Basel Faulty: Famed Baselworld Fair Canceled Again


Baselworld, which seemed poised to rise from the dead with a revamped fair in spring 2022, has decided it’s not quite ready to resurrect itself.

The new incarnation of the show will not take place when originally scheduled—March 30–April 4, 2022, in Basel, Switzerland—according to a statement from organizer MCH Group.

“[We] have decided to take more time for the launch of the new concept,” it added.

MCH gave no indication whether it intends to hold Baselworld—once among the biggest and most prestigious shows on the watch and jewelry calendar—later in the year or any specifics about future plans. This is the third Baselworld in a row to be canceled.

MCH said the decision stemmed from “experience gained from [its] pop-up event at the Geneva Watch Days and on intensive discussions with manufacturers and retailers.… It is particularly difficult to launch a new concept for a new target segment due to the renewed aggravation of the COVID situation.”

In addition, Baselworld managing director Michel Loris-Melikoff will step down “and take on a new challenge,” said MCH. The company said it “regrets his decision and thanks him for his tireless commitment.”

Loris-Melikoff had headed the struggling fair since 2018, though, as fate would have it, he presided over only one show. Four months after he came on board, the show was dealt a significant blow when Swatch, its largest exhibitor, pulled out. The 2019 fair, also billed as a reboot, saw 20% fewer visitors.

After that, more brands rushed for the exits, though the two biggest names—Rolex and Patek Phillipe—seemed committed. Then, the 2020 show was canceled, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. MCH’s decision to not give exhibitors full refunds—along with local hotels’ reluctance to do the same—led to a bigger blowup, and a parade of big names pulled out, causing the 2021 show to be canceled. (Odds are, COVID-19 would have stopped the event regardless.)

With Baselworld shorn of major players, MCH declared it over, and went to work on a new concept, HourUniverse, which was supposed to take place in summer of 2021. That was called off, too, and in June, Loris-Melikoff announced that Baselworld was back.

“The brand Baselworld is well-known everywhere on this planet,” he said. “It stands for [the 100-year] heritage that we have.”

While traditionally Baselworld has been a showcase for major brands, Loris-Melikoff said the new version would focus on independents.

While that vision has yet to be realized, MCH Group CEO Beat Zwahlen said in a statement the show would continue that path.

“The market exists for a [business-to-business-to-consumer] platform that brings together medium-sized and specialized manufacturers with independent retailers,” he said. “But their needs must be analyzed in more detail. This means we need to have significantly more time to get there.”

Top: Baselworld in its glory days (photo courtesy of MCH Group)

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By: Rob Bates

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