Successful SIHH sees `bright future’

The 12th Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) was one of the most successful to date. Thanks to rising attendance, pacts with the Basel World Watch and Jewelry Show and SIHH’s landlord, and a growing stable of top brands, show officials anticipate what one SIHH report calls “a very bright future.”

Attendance for the eight-day fair, held in April at the Palexpo Center in Geneva, Switzerland, topped 10,000 for the first time. That’s 10% over 2001, and includes thousands of the world’s finest watch and jewelry retailers. Also in attendance were some 800 members of the press-a 30% gain and a sign of SIHH’s role as a signpost for luxury watch trends and business.

Despite gloomy global economies in 2001 and early 2002, exhibitors reported very good results. “Prestige watchmaking is standing up better to the current economic slowdown than the rest of the luxury goods sector,” noted a post-SIHH summary.

Aiding attendance and business was the addition of four more prestigious brands-Van Cleef & Arpels, A. Lange & Söhne, IWC, and Jaeger-LeCoultre-bringing the number of show exhibitors to a record 18. All four are owned by the Richemont Group, which launched the SIHH in 1990. The other vendors are Baume & Mercier, Cartier, Alfred Dunhill, Montblanc, Officine Panerai, Piaget, Vacheron Constantin-also owned by Richemont-and Audemars Piguet, Bovet, Daniel JeanRichard, Girard-Perregaux, Roger Dubuis, Parmigiani Fleurier, and Perrelet.

An agreement last year with the Basel show finally coordinates (and overlaps) the two fairs’ dates through 2007. Brands in both shows-as well as their retail clients-had campaigned to have the dates aligned because many foreign customers were unwilling to travel to Switzerland twice in the first weeks of each new year to attend the two shows.

A further benefit for SIHH from the Basel pact is a new seven-year contract with Palexpo, guaranteeing use of its venues for those dates. (SIHH was bumped from its original date this year because of a car show.) The exhibition hall used by SIHH was expanded (to 18,000 square meters) and refurbished this year by Palexpo, and an additional, larger hall is under construction. The new hall will be available to SIHH for 2003 (April 7-14), and will provide more spacious facilities for the show.