Watches & Wonders Geneva (formerly SIHH) has been cancelled in an announcement by the FHH overnight, as a result of the growing concerns around the Coronavirus and its spread throughout the world. This comes off the back of both Citizen and Bulova announcing their withdrawal from Baselworld just days ago, and adds Watches & Wonders to the growing list of watch industry events that have been cancelled due to the virus. The most notable of these cancellations have been the Swatch Group retail and press event Time to Move, and the Grand Seiko Summit, which was to be held in Tokyo, as well as a host of boutique openings locally in Australia.
“In view of the latest developments concerning the worldwide spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, it is the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie’s duty, as organiser of Watches & Wonders Geneva, to anticipate the potential risks that travel and important international gatherings could entail,” the FHH statement said. “Therefore, in order to protect the health and wellbeing of all our guests, press, partners and teams, the decision has been taken to cancel the upcoming edition of Watches & Wonders Geneva.” Despite this, the FHH confirmed it was optimistic for the future, stating that “the FHH is already working on the organisation of the 2021 edition for Watches & Wonders Geneva”.
The collective eyes of the watch world now turn to the embattled Baselworld, which is still scheduled to immediately follow the planned Watches & Wonders dates. The Coronavirus could not have come at a worse time for the largest watch and jewellery trade show in the world, as Baselworld desperately tries to reinvent itself, to slow the haemorrhaging of exhibitors who are choosing to spend their money elsewhere.
Only last Thursday, Baselworld released a statement that they are unperturbed by the virus. “Baselworld 2020 is on track,” said Michel Loris-Melikoff, Managing Director of Baselworld. “We are planning the coming show as intended. Based on the comprehensive information our monitoring team has collected to date, we have no reason to doubt it at all.
“We are very closely monitoring the evolution of the COVID-19 situation and are in close contact with the respective health and other authorities. In coordination with the most important stakeholders of our industries, we are respecting all official procedures and recommendations to ensure the safety of the exhibitors, visitors and staff. A comprehensive health action plan has been drawn up for rapid deployment if necessary.”
While the ambition to deliver Baselworld — scheduled for April 30 to May 5 — without hiccup is understandable, we will wait and see if the cancellation of their closest rival in Geneva will change anything.