The Sad Story of Baselworld

The Sad Story of Baselworld

5 min read
Tim Vaux


Tim Vaux


How Baselworld’s recent decline is shaping the future of the watch industry...

If you follow along with watch industry news you probably have heard the past 24 hours have been pretty hectic with the future of Baselworld taking a monumental blow as Patek Philippe, Chopard, Chanel, Tudor all follow an initiative led by Rolex to announce their withdrawal from Baselworld.

The show has undoubtedly suffered in recent years with the latest developments feeling like the final knockout blow. Rolex and Patek Philippe are arguably two of the biggest watch brands. Now they have quite vocally waved goodbye to what was the biggest watch show in the world. What is left is an unclear future for the show as it is thrown into all manners of disruption. The future of Baselworld is starting to look either unrecognisable or quite simply, non-existent. The current epidemic the world is experiencing no doubt contributed hugely to this withdrawal situation.

This news has naturally resulted in many friends from the industry voicing their thoughts on this, so we wanted to create something that brings all of these voices together so you can hear everything we know so far…

What was Baselworld like in 1979?

The show has changed a lot in the past few years, but it most certainly has changed a lot since industry vetern Joe Thompson first attended back in 1979. In 2018 he looked back on his inaugural attendance to the biggest watch show sharing some fascinating insights:

Take a trip back in time here.

1-week rewind with WatchPro

Rob Corder and the whole WatchPro team are always a site worth visiting for industry news as it happens. In light of the current COVID-19 epidemic, we’ve also read pieces from the team with their predictions and actions they feel must be taken to save the show. Here we take a look back at an article posted just last week regarding the first communication between the president of the Committee of Swiss Exhibitors and Baselworld and the impending doom that was waiting for the show:

Read the story here.

Wei Koh has his say...

We cannot share the thoughts of the industry without highlighting a detailed insight from Mr Wei Koh of Revolution. Fortunately for everyone, Revolution has just published this naturally detailed piece today. And, with a headline of ‘ How Baselworld Screwed Itself into Oblivion’ you can be sure Wei has a thing or two to share.

So, in true Wei style, grab your favourite drink, put your feet up and explore everything Wei has to say on this evolving situation. It’s a good one:

Hear what Wei has to say here.

A handy timeline of events

This whole Baselworld situation has been a slow burning candle that seems to have been burning at double speed in the past week. But where did it all start? How long has the writing been on the wall? Well thankfully the great people at Time and Tide have put together a handy little timeline of events as a much needed refresher:

Get the full rundown here.

The bigger pictures from Fratello

Fratello Watches are next up to share their thoughts on the matter and Rob Nudds gives up all a little more context on the show as a whole, breaking down how and why we are where we are. This piece is well worth your time:

Learn about what led up to this outcome here.

As we come across more fascinating insights from the world of watches we will be sure to update this page.

17th April Update - When it rains, it really does pour...

Baselworld must think it is stuck in a terrible nightmare at the moment with no way out. Following the announcement we've talked about already in this article, LVMH have now decided to make the logically smart move and also wave goodbye to Baselworld. For those who don't know that includes: Hublot, Zenith, Bulgari and Tag Heuer all out. For fans of watches, although this seems like bad news at the moment all watch brands are increasing their communication with each as they now are all on the same page about hosting an event in the heart of watchmaking, Geneva. It's very sad to see Baselworld go this way, but as watch consumers we will all see great watches launched again, we will all be able to share this passion with each other online and we will all be doing it in an up to date, modern way. Bring on Geneva 2021.

For more info on this story click here.

21st April Update - Interesting quote from Breitling CEO:

On a recent video Revolution Watch did with the Breitling CEO Georges Kern, he was quoted saying:

“ Fairs are very expensive and very intense. We saved a lot of money with our Summit events. When we cancelled our Summit recently we decided to do a webcast instead, which probably cost around 5,000 CHF. The point is, we had as many digital and press coverage with 5,000 spent then with 5 million we spent at Basel. Exactly the same coverage, if not more."

Interesting stuff and information that for many of us who are already using the internet knew for some time now. You can check out the full video from Revolution here.

7th May Update - Baselworld 2021 Cancelled

A recent development that probably won't shock anyone reading this, Baselworld has just announced that their 2021 show is now officially cancelled. The show was originally meant to be on at the end of January, but this date seemed to be more of provisional scheduling than a concrete plan. This news comes as Patek Philippe, Rolex, Tudor, Chanel, Chopard, Hublot, Zenith and TAG Heuer all agree to a lower figure refunded to them for Baselworld 2020 so other brands from the industry can benefit from an increased return. I don't think we will be hearing again from Baselworld for a few years as they look to explore other concepts.

Now, it’s over to you. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the current situation in the comments below and most importantly, how much does this news impact you as loyal customers of these watch brands? As customers ourselves, we know that the watches, the products released are the real things that do the talking. So does it really matter to you all how they are presented? Be sure to add your thoughts below...

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Tim Vaux

About the Author: Tim Vaux

I don't think I can remember a time in my life when watches weren't in my life. I've been writing about watches online for a handful of years now, enjoying every moment of it. I'm passionate about experiencing the world of watches and translating those experiences via articles and images for the wider audience to consume.

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