LVMH is out, Basel is dead, so here’s the three things I won’t miss and the one tasty grilled treat that I will…Andrew McUtchen
Stick a fork in Basel, she’s done. LVMH has just announced they’re following Rolex and Patek to Geneva in April of 2021. And I choose those words carefully. Of all the ways you could announce the death of Basel, a sausage has to be in the story. Because, overpriced snags sold daily in the concourse outside Hall 1 came to symbolise all that was wrong with the way the fair, and the city, conducted itself when the watch folks came to town. Have you heard of extortion? If Basel and Baselworld didn’t invent it, they certainly perfected the art.
But here’s the controversial part. I actually like Basel sausages. Quite a lot actually. And I partook, every year. At least once a day during the fair, sometimes twice, I’d emerge blinking in the light reflecting off that cheese grater thing and I’d stand in a line to receive a veal sausage on a piece of dry brown bread. I’d chew it down, with lashings of mustard and sauce, and then pour a beer down the neck, take an unsteady breath, straighten my tie and go back in and get to work. Job done. So this announcement is laced with sadness for me.
Will I miss the 6000 CHF I paid for our team to cram into a small apartment around the corner?
Yeah, nah. Will I miss travelling to Switzerland from Australia twice in Q1? Hells no. Will I miss the armada of models spread out in formation as you entered the building, smiling stiffly like they had guns to their heads while trying to dole out newspapers nobody ever seemed to take? No, no, no. So weird.
But I will miss the Basel sausages? You bet I will. Do they have similarly overpriced veal small goods and equally stale bread in Geneva? I’m going to have to wait until April 2021 to find out.
Oh, you want the actual news? My bad! See the full statement below, but the TLDR is: Rolex and Patek are leaving so we are too. See yas.
LVMH to withdraw from Baselworld – Full statement
The Swiss watch Manufactures of the LVMH Group, including the LVMH Watchmaking Division (TAG Heuer, Hublot and Zenith) and the House of Bvlgari, have taken note of the departure of Rolex, Tudor, Patek Philippe, Chanel and Chopard from the Baselworld show scheduled for January 2021. Within this context of clearly weakened representation of the Swiss watch industry and hence inevitably lower participation, it appears clear to the brands composing the Division and to the House of Bvlgari that they must also withdraw in order to preserve their image and their relations with their clients as well with the media. They will therefore not be taking part in the 2021 edition of Baselworld.
The four Maisons are examining various potential event formats corresponding to the need to present their strategic directions and new products to their commercial partners – as well as to the international press – next year. The LVMH Watchmaking Division on the one hand, and Bvlgari on the other, will decide on their plans in the coming weeks, according to their respective objectives.
“We are sorry to have to leave this over 100-year-old Baselworld event to which our Maisons have been consistently loyal. It is nonetheless clear that we must respond quickly and make other arrangements. We are facing an opportunity to reinvent the format and content of one of the key moments of our watchmaking year, which represented both a major commercial challenge and a lever of influence for our brands. With this in mind, we will do our utmost to be present alongside the other prestigious Maisons that will gather in Geneva in April 2021, and thereby meet the requirements of our partners and clients while offering them an unrivalled experience.”
Stéphane Bianchi, CEO of the LVMH Watchmaking Division
“Grouping the entire Swiss watch industry in a single location, Geneva – the historical capital of watchmaking – and around a single date, is a major opportunity to at last revive a sector that all too many divisions and divergent interests have weakened compared to the rest of the luxury sector in which Bvlgari is active and that is making much faster progress. We are looking forward to going to Geneva in April 2021, even though we still need to define the terms of our participation, which we will specify in the coming weeks. We are also delighted not to have to make up for the lack of institutional watch shows, which in 2020 forced us to take tactical initiatives that were necessary in the short term but undesirable in the medium term.”
Jean-Christophe Babin, CEO Bvlgari Group