Baselworld’s managing director Michel Loris-Melikoff says he is open to discussions on coordinating with SIHH and EPHJ on finding a date and location that the entire watch industry can rally around.
In a wide-ranging interview with WatchPro yesterday, Mr Loris-Melikoff, who took the reigns of Baselworld this summer, says that he recognises that the needs of watch brands must be accommodated in the fair’s future strategy.
“If the industry says it needs for there to be two shows at the same time and place, then we must respond to that. If they say there should be one show, we must listen to that,” he suggests.
“The whole industry could come together at one time: SIHH, Baselworld and the supplier’s show [EPHJ],” he adds.
Mr Loris-Melikoff admits there are “obstacles and egos” to overcome, but his openness to suggestions of change will be welcomed by the industry. “There are strong opinions, so we will need to see what is possible. MCH Group [the owner of Baselworld] is listening,” he states.
In recent months Jean-Claude Biver, non executive chairman of LVMH Watchmaking Division and TAG Heuer, Ricardo Guadalupe, CEO of Hublot and Thierry Stern, president of Patek Philippe, have all suggested it would be better for the industry to have one date to work towards.
Mr Loris-Melikoff is meeting with key stakeholders including Rolex, Patek Philippe and LVMH next week to discuss a two-phase plan that he believes will breathe new life into Baselworld following the decision of Swatch Group to leave the event in 2019.
Brands will be presented with a vision for the show in 2020, and then 2022. Mr Loris-Melikoff would not give specific details on the plans for those two years, but with only 15 months before a March 2020 fair, it is unlikely that wholesale changes will take place for that year. Ideas for 2022 and beyond are likely to be more far-reaching. “It takes 18 months to create a new exhibition, but 2 years to change an existing exhibition,” he tells WatchPro.
The difficulties presented by Swatch Group’s decision to leave Baselworld’s 2019 outing are obvious in a commercial sense, but few will know the ramifications from an operational standpoint. The heart of Baselworld, Hall 1.0, which houses multi-million pound exhibition stands from the likes of Rolex, Patek Philippe, Breitling, TAG Heuer and Hublot along with all the Swatch Group brands, was sealed after the 2018 event. Because of the expense of the booths, MCH Group has to pay for round the clock security in the hall; plus it has its humidity, temperature and any dust or contaminates closely controlled. From what amounts to a massive “clean room”, Swatch Group’s entire presence has to be removed, an eye-wateringly expensive and complicated project, Mr Loris-Melikoff describes.