CORDER’S COLUMN: The big guns have moved to Geneva, now we need a plan for everybody else

Rob Corder.

My record number of meetings during a four-day trip to Baselworld was 73 in 2018 (see planner below).

I counted them up because I have a Google Doc that will live forever in cyberspace as a register of how things used to be.


It looks like a ridiculous schedule, and it was, but I remember it fondly as my publisher Daniel Malins and I rushed from appointment to appointment.

What I loved about those days was the huge range of businesses we saw.

Just look at Thursday, March 22, we dashed from Dartmouth Brands home to eight small watch brands, to Chopard and Maurice Lacroix before 10.30am. By the end of the day we had seen collections from WOLF, Chanel, Tudor and Citizen.

It is vital that this vast spectrum of businesses has a way to get attention of the press and retailers in 2021, and so far there appears to be no exhibition on offer to them.

Watches & Wonders Geneva is a closed shop to Richemont’s brands and a handful of others, particularly in the excellent Carré des Horlogers areas for low volume luxury independent brands. Baselworld had a similar area it called Les Ateliers.

The breakaway exhibition being created around Rolex, Patek Philippe, Tudor, Chopard and Chanel will likely expand, particularly if players like Grand Seiko(?), TAG Heuer, Hublot, Bulgari, Zenith, Breitling and Carl F. Bucherer ask to join.

Medium-sized brands fall into the gap between the areas for boutique watchmaking brands and these blockbuster businesses.

I do not know whether Palexpo next to Geneva Airport is large enough to house three shows. But if there is, there needs to be a plan to accommodate the likes of Oris, Seiko, Casio, Citizen Watch Group, Raymond Weil, Michel Herbelin and Mondaine.

These brands could set up camp at central Geneva hotels, but the scale of what is happening up the hill at Palexpo will make it near impossible to get noticed.

Watches & Wonders’ organizer FHH has been playing its cards pretty close to its chest in the past few weeks, so I hope they are hunkered down devising a way to create a celebration of global watchmaking in April next year that includes every tier of the industry.

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