Plans for Baselworld 2021 watch fair up in the air

In April, Rolex and a few other major brands announced their withdrawal from the 2021 edition. Keystone / Georgios Kefalas

The organisers of the world’s biggest watch and jewellery fair have decided to temporarily shelve the event for 2021 following the exodus of major brands. 

This content was published on May 7, 2020 - 11:13
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On Thursday, the MCH Group that organises the fair announced their decision not to hold the fair that was scheduled from January 28 to February 2 next year. It is a big blow for Baselworld after the cancellation of this year’s exhibition due to Covid-19 restrictions. 

"We will be taking a decision on possible follow-up formats by the summer and will then provide information on the new concept and scheduling," said Michel Loris-Melikoff, managing director of Baselworld. 

The organisers were hit hard by the surprise withdrawal of big Swiss players in the watch industry for the 2021 event. In April, watch brands Rolex, Patek Philippe, Chanel, Chopard and Tudor said they would launch a new trade show in Geneva next April with the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie industry group.  

It remains to be seen if the Baselworld organisers can still pull off the fair in 2021 with reduced revenues.  

Settlement reached 

The MCH Group also announced that it will shoulder around two-thirds of the amount spent by exhibitors in preparing for the 2020 exhibition until it got cancelled. A company spokesman refused to divulge the total amount the organisers will have to cough up.  

Last month the watch brands had demanded the full CHF20 million ($20.5 million) they had committed to the fair. The MCH Group was unable to meet their demands, having already incurred costs of CHF18.36 million, according Loris-Melikoff in a press article. 

The organisers had already offered to carry forward 85% of the fees for Baselworld 2020 to next year’s event and use the remaining 15% to partially offset out-of-pocket costs already accrued. Exhibitors could also alternatively request a cash refund up to 30% of the fees, with 40% carried forward to Baselworld 2021. 


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