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BREAKING NEWS: LVMH watch brands choose Dubai for global exhibition in 2020

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LVMH has committed to exhibiting at next year’s Baselworld in April, but will use an event in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in January 2020 to give a preview of its plans to the international press and retail partners.

The move appears to be a reaction to SIHH moving from January to April om 2020, where it will run back-to-back with Baselworld.

Baselworld managing director Michel Loris-Melikoff was asked in December last year whether there has been any discussion internally or with exhibitors about moving the event to a completely new location such as Dubai?

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Could it even be moved around the world so that it touches down in some of the greatest cities in the world, and those with the most vibrant watch markets? Hong Kong? Dubai? New York? Las Vegas, WatchPro asked Mr Loris-Melikoff over lunch in Basel.

After a long pause, he replied: “Maybe, maybe not.”

The thought may not have led to action from Baselworld, but LVMH has embraced the benefits of relocating.

While LVMH’s watch brands will still take part in Baselworld 2020, the group’s commitment to an event that will introduce journalists and retailers from around the world to the sunshine, beaches, myriad 5-star luxury hotels and world class airport of Dubai in January is another challenge to the dogma that Swiss watchmakers must launch new products in Switzerland.

The pleasures of Dubai — a city built from the ground up to attract overseas visitors — are likely to be judged in stark contrast to Basel and even Geneva.

Dubai is also geographically convenient for Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia, and is also accessible with direct connections from several US cities, including LA and San Francisco on the West coast, albeit a 16 hour flight away.

Jean-Christophe Babin, president of the Bulgari Group, will effectively play host to the event, which will take place in the luxury of Dubai’s Bulgari Hotel.

Hosting an event in January, as LVMH has done in recent years alongside SIHH in Geneva, is important to the group, particularly with Baselworld and SIHH now moving to the second quarter of the year.

“In between Geneva in January and Basel in March, we have had in the recent years two major product presentations in the first quarter. This early discovery of our strategies, news and novelties has allowed our media and retail partners to better plan the year ahead and as such we have decided on this set up for 2020 to balance the scheduling of the other events,” Mr Babin says.

Stéphane Bianchi, President of the LVMH Watch Division, adds: “We remain very supportive and loyal to Baselworld and the Swiss watchmaking industry. However, it was not possible for us to go 13 months without a global presentation of our products and brands. This additional event further confirms the LVMH commitment to the strategic and profitable watch category.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: WatchPro is owned by ITP Media Group, which is the largest media company in the Middle East with its headquarters in Dubai. WatchPro editor Rob Corder opened the ITP office in Dubai in 1993, lived in the city for 10 years, and returns for business several times every year. “Consider me your guide to the delights of Dubai as you make plans to visit in January next year,” he says. “This is a city where you will find affordable luxury hotels, welcoming people, a safe, comfortable, English-speaking environment that is geared to make your visit as enjoyable and productive as possible,” he adds.

The Bulgari Resort Dubai, jutting out into the Arabian Gulf on a seahorse-shaped peninsular, is the first and only Bulgari-branded property in the Middle East. The location is a draw in itself, but the Italian jeweler and watchmaker has inspired the hotel’s design, facilities, and restaurants. Italian touches dominate, with travertine marble from Tivoli in the rooms, and Vicenza stone walls in the spa. There is also an Italian restaurant where three-Michelin-starred chef Niko Romito overseas the menu. The resort is also home to Bulgari’s first-ever private marina and yacht club with ocean and city views.

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Rob Corder

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