Hopes that the Swiss watch industry would pull together next year for a single mega show in Geneva look likely to be dashed.
In the same week in which Watches & Wonders announced a new show in Shanghai and Baselworld owner MCH Group launched HourUniverse, a third brand new exhibition has been announced for 2021 called Imagination – One World One Vision.
And this is before we learn what Swatch Group, Fossil, Movado, Timex Group, Casio, Seiko, Grand Seiko and others will do.
It appears that Imagination – One World One Vision felt the need to rush out news of its launch this week in case rival shows gain too much momentum.
The show’s organiser, Swiss Creative Lab, appears to want to put a marker in the ground because the date for the new event has been narrowed down only to “early February”, and its location will be either Geneva or Lausanne.
The unique selling point of the new show is that it will be for independent watchmakers that need a B2B fair to speak to distributors and retailers. Early February is a better time for these brands than the major shows in April, because they can tweak their watch designs and production runs following feedback from customers and still deliver in Q3.
“The business model of independent brands is very different,” explains Carlo E. Nald, founder of Swiss Creative Lab.
“They depend on distributors, agents and stores, while large groups often have their own brand distribution network. Moreover, independent brands need to get market feedback at the beginning of the year in order to adjust their investments and annual production. So, we must be pleased with the decision made by large groups to join forces, but independent brands have other strategies and need their own event.”
Swiss Creative Lab ran an exhibition for 10 years in a hotel alongside Baselworld with dozens of smaller brands taking advantage of the proximity to the main show but much more affordable prices.
Mr Naldi believes that hundreds of these brands are now homeless after Baselworld imploded.
“I could not abandon 500 brands to their fate at a time when the watchmaking industry was going through one of the most crucial periods in its history,” Mr Naldi says. “Everyone knows that these companies are a reservoir of creativity for the watchmaking industry. As requested by them, and with the support of some friends from the sector, we therefore decided to take action and launch this new trade show.”