Baselworld Postponed Until 2021

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Baselworld Postponed Until 2021 The news we'd been expecting has finally broken. by Rob NuddsFebruary 28, 2020 MIN READBaselworld Postponed Until 2021

Sadly, we can confirm today that the 2020 edition of Baselworld will not go ahead. While Baselworld has issued a statement referring to the “postponement” of the event, it amounts to a cancelation. And a major one at that.

The monumental game of chicken being played by WAW and Baselworld came to an end this week when WAW announced its cancelation. Following that decision, it seemed only a matter of time before Baselworld followed suit. Regrettably, that assumption proved correct. The de facto cancellation of the “delayed” event changes the landscape of watch reporting in 2020 considerably. While we are used to receiving a huge amount of news in one go and having direct access to the providers of said news at the time, we now have to contend with a protracted reveal.

There has been a lot of talk in recent years about the health of Baselworld. Plummeting visitor and exhibitor numbers have placed the fair on life support. The significant decline has raised questions about not just Baselworld’s future, but the future and necessity of all trade fairs in our industry.

A future for trade shows

While it may be tempting to jump on the Baselworld bandwagon and confine large scale gatherings of industry personnel to the past, I think there is certainly a future for trade shows. To survive, the organization and offering must improve. Making them more attractive to visiting journalists and brands (and the curious public) is essential. Simple things like affordable food/accommodation, decent WiFi, and areas for journalists to take useable photographs/shoot up-to-the-minute video should be installed as standard. Instead, these reasonable requests are apparently harder to meet than a unicorn. And I’ve never met a unicorn.

This situation is extremely disappointing. There are, however, positives to be taken. If we can shake off the discomforting novelty of having the main anchor of the watchmaking calendar obliterated, we can start to look forward to a year of innovation. Brands must try something new. It is their chance to find their individual voices. Baselworld is convenient. But it is not an “on brand” destination for many of the wildly exciting brands showing there. In-house events — like the trailblazing Basel-on-Thames event by Bremont — now have the perfect springboard.

“better the devil you know”

Very few brand execs would have willingly walked away from Baselworld — it is kind of a “better the devil you know” situation with these established fairs. But now they have no choice. Now they must figure out a way to deliver the news to us so we can deliver it to you. My hope is that brands get creative. I hope they throw open their doors to the industry and push for the creation of more brand-specific content. Perhaps this is the best chance they’ve ever had to tell their story. And I guess, whether we like it or not, we’re about to find out. Keep abreast of developments here.

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About the author

Rob Nudds

Rob’s first exposure to the watch industry was a part-time retail role for the Signet Group at the age of 17. An obsession with watches soon developed. Following an ill-advised BSc in Archaeological Science, he applied for sponsorship to undertake… read more

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