Three More Watch Firms Leave Basel Show

Three of the world’s top luxury watch brands will no longer exhibit at the annual watch fair in Basel, Switzerland, the world’s largest watch and clock trade show. They are IWC (International Watch Co.) and Jaeger-LeCoultre, both Swiss firms, and Länge & Söhne, a German firm. They comprise the Les Manufactures Horlogeres group (LMH), which was purchased last summer by the Paris-based Richemont Group.

The three will join the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH), a small luxury watch show in Geneva that Richemont helped start 11 years ago in protest against the Basel show. Fourteen other luxury watches (many of them Richemont brands, such as Cartier, Baume & Mercier, Piaget, and Vacheron Constantin) already exhibit at SIHH. The SIHH has periodically encouraged other luxury watches, most of whom exhibit in Basel, to join it in Geneva, the longtime home of many luxury watchmakers.

Basel officials expressed “regret” that the three are leaving but said “it wasn’t unexpected,” in view of their purchase by Richemont. They said no other luxury brands in the Basel Fair—such as Patek Philippe or Rolex—were expected to follow suit, and they repeated their offer to welcome any SIHH exhibitors back into the Basel show.

(Ironically, Breguet, another top luxury brand and one-time SIHH exhibitor, has left the SIHH to appear exclusively in Basel, starting this year. Breguet was bought two years ago by the Swatch Group, the world’s largest watchmaker, which exhibits only in Basel.)

In 2002, the SIHH show will be held April 8-15. The Basel fair is scheduled for April 4-11.