SIHH luxury watch show moves to larger quarters

Organizers of the annual international Swiss luxury watch show, the Salon International de la haute Horlogerie (SIHH), held in Geneva, announced Oct. 21 to the Swiss press that the show will be held in larger quarters starting in 2005.

It will move from Hall 7 at Geneva’s Palexpo convention center—SIHH’s home since 1991—to the nearby larger Hall 6 and part of Hall 5 (which will be its reception/check-in lobby). In addition, that area is being renovated to provide more open space.

“It will be a little more expensive, but more comfortable for both exhibitors and visitors,” said Rodolphe Huser, president of the show’s organizing committee (CIHH). There has been a growing problem with crowding—especially in the check-in area and at the entrance, just off the main highway—as SIHH became a major luxury watch event, attracting more visitors in rent years. “It’s been difficult to treat VIPs the way we wished,” he said. “In the future, access will be in a private area, away from the highway, so this problem will be resolved.”

Despite the larger exhibition area, Houser said no new brands will be added in the 2005 Salon. “We’ll see first how the 15th edition goes. Then, we’ll see whether we wish to accommodate other brands,” he said. “But we don’t want to become gigantic. Our goal isn’t to compete with the [international watch and jewelry] Basel Fair,” held annually about the same time SIHH in Basel, Switzerland. (BaselWorld 2004 had 2,186 exhibitors from 44 nations and 89,350 attendees.) Another factor limiting SIHH’s further expansion, he added, is that “it isn’t easy to find enough rooms in four- and five-star category hotels [for visitors and exhibitors] in Geneva.”

Since begun by Cartier [now the Richemont Group] in 1991, SIHH has grown from five prestigious watch brands [Baume & Mercier, Cartier, Piaget, Gerald Genta, and Daniel Roth] to 16—which together account for almost a third (in value) of all luxury timepieces sold globally—and some 10,000 visitors. The watch brands now include Richemont’s Lange & Söhne, Alfred Dunhill, Baume & Mercier, Cartier, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Montblanc, Officine Panerai, Piaget, Vacheron Constantin, and Van Cleef & Arpels, plus the brands of Audemars Piguet, Girard-Perregaux, JeanRichard, Parmigiani Fleurier, and Roger Dubuis.