Baselworld’s demise might have had you dreaming that you would never again have to face the gouging hotels, taxis, bars and restaurants or the misery of the Basel architecture east of the River Rhine.
Baselworld’s management at MCH Group has announced that a brand new watch and jewellery show named HourUniverse will take place in April 2021, and it will be back where it all began in Basel.
MCH Group says it has spent two months canvassing opinions from the industry before revealing its plan that aims to: “unite and support a whole community that wants to regroup, make a new start and is receptive to change”.
The aim is to create a community of businesses and consumers that will engage all year round, either through a digital platform, which is under construction, or live and virtual events.
“The new concept is a B2B2C meeting point that places the customer at the heart of its focus, reversing the order of the past. The entire platform is thought out and designed around the customer. This applies to all players of the distribution chain, traditional and online retailers, including those of the CPO (certified Pre-Owned),” a statement for the launch says.
HourUniverse’s big show in Basel will be aligned with Watches & Wonders and the Rolex-led show that takes place in Geneva in April.
The aim is to ensure that people will only have to travel to Switzerland once a year.
MCH says a detailed concept will be unveiled towards the end of August.
The team will be acutely aware that incredulity will be the industry’s first reaction to a show that will not have exhibitors from LVMH, Richemont, Swatch Group, Rolex, Tudor, Breitling, Chopard, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, Fossil Group, Movado, Festina Group, Timex Group, any of the indies that will be at Watches & Wonders; the list goes on.
However, there is a gap in the market for a new event next year, because there are still many brands without a plan for where, when and how to meet retailers and journalists to present their novelties.
Without any of the biggest brands, HourUniverse looks unlikely to have sufficient pulling power for overseas visitors to tack on a trip to Basel before or after their Geneva week.
Its best chance is to do everything else: gems, jewellery, machinery, tools and packaging, but there are already strong shows for these sectors including Vicenza and EPHJ.
There is also bad blood between Baselworld’s exhibitors and its management over how it refunded deposits for this year’s show. And there is anger from people that have visited the show for years, and are now struggling to get refunds from the city’s hotels that in normal times had to be booked a year in advance.
An angle on this story closer to home for WatchPro will be how HourUniverse works with the global media it will need to promote the show. Every year, Baselworld bartered around £30,000-worth of advertising in WatchPro for a shelf in its media centre where we could present the magazine (value, approximately £0). It is hard to imagine we will be offering such generous terms for the new show, so we will wait to see whether MCH Group will be spending big on advertising to generate interest from exhibitors and visitors.