Watches and Wonders 2021 to be exclusively online - but there is hope for 2022...
This afternoon we received official confirmation from Watches and Wonders that the 2021 version of the show will (much like this year) be completely digital with no physical salon to be held.
Below is the official statement:
"In the light of uncertainty amid the current health crisis, the Watches and Wonders Geneva Exhibitor Committee has taken the decision not to hold the physical Salon, scheduled April 7 to 13, 2021. An all-digital edition will be proposed on the same dates at watchesandwonders.com with new services and features, where participating brands will be able to present their new watches for 2021 and interact directly with their audiences.
In view of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Exhibitor Committee has decided to cancel the physical Salon that would have been held at Palexpo from April 7 to 13, 2021. The decision, taken in close consultation with the principal stakeholders, is seen as the most responsible course of action, given the current health crisis and uncertainties as to how the situation may evolve.
In order to ensure business continuity, the decision has also been taken to ramp up the fair’s digital component and roll out an upgraded version of the watchesandwonders.com platform that was successfully introduced in April this year.
Designed to encourage communication and facilitate networking, this interactive experience will enable professionals – media, retailers and exhibiting brands’ clients – to discover the new releases for 2021 and other watchmaking wonders. Additional services and features will be introduced, including live chats and streaming, so that the event can be enjoyed all over the world.
This all-digital event will demonstrate an open and cohesive mindset. All the brands taking part in Watches and Wonders Geneva will be present online in April 2021. Furthermore, the Exhibitor Committee wishes to invite other brands to join this digital edition – making it the number-one event for watchmaking in 2021 – where up to 50 of the industry’s representative names will present their latest creations, expertise and unique identity.
The 2022 physical Salon will welcome more major players, in line with modalities set out by the Exhibitor Committee upholding shared vision and values.
This 2022 edition will be the biggest watch event ever held in Geneva. In the meantime, the Exhibitor Committee looks forward to making a date for the digital edition of Watches and Wonders Geneva, from April 7 to 13, 2021!
- A. LANGE & SÖHNE
- ARMIN STROM
- ARNOLD & SON
- BAUME & MERCIER
- FERDINAND BERTHOUD
- H. MOSER & CIE
- IWC SCHAFFHAUSEN
- LAURENT FERRIER
- PATEK PHILIPPE
- REBELLION TIMEPIECES
- ROGER DUBUIS
- RUDIS SYLVA
- ULYSSE NARDIN
- VACHERON CONSTANTIN"
Some personal thoughts
This seems like the safe and responsible thing to do for the foreseeable future, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t sad to see another year go by and no physical watch show. The pandemic is still a very fresh situation and although there is talk of multiple vaccinations when it comes to organising a global event for a whole industry, companies need to act on fact and safety. 2020 saw the start of the digital Watches & Wonders show with images, information all being available to download. We also saw videos from each brand with a representative explaining the new watches, much like they would in a meeting. Given the state of the world, this seemed to work well. On paper everyone was happy. Brands got the message out there without having to spend millions, the media and press were able to report on new releases safely and quickly and most importantly, the paying watch community heard about the new releases. In an unpredictable year, that is a success in and of itself.
But from an engaged member of the community and a media point of view, there was something missing. Every media outlet had the same images meaning most of the reporting was the same. No one had hands-on time with the new models so it was impossible to comment on how releases felt in person and on the wrist. Everyone based their opinions and comments purely on 2D content through a screen, which in the watch world when dealing with immensely personal creations can only say so much.
Perhaps the most exciting news here is the inclusion of brands such as Rolex, Tudor and Patek who will all be joining the Watches and Wonders family releasing models under the show's umbrella.
Watches and Wonders also hinted a few times in their statement that 2022 will be a physical show and it will be bigger than ever. Is this the earliest we can expect things to get ‘back to normal’ for the industry?