Even as the watch industry reeled from the news that its premier fairs — Baselworld, and Watches & Wonders (formerly SIHH) — were going to postponed or cancelled entirely, a new splinter group comprising just eight brands has come together to organize Geneva Watch Days on a much smaller scale. Growing concerns over the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) notwithstanding, the participating watch brands have the support of the local government as of know.
The new show will take place during the initial dates of the Watches & Wonders show, from April 26 to April 29, and has been described as “a decentralized and self-managed Multibrand Watch Event [that] will take place in several Geneva high-end hotels.” The final details for what exactly the show will look like, its schedule, specific venues, and many other details are being worked out through a collaborative steering committee composed of the participating brands.
This is a decentralized and self-managed Multibrand Watch Event that will take place in several Geneva high-end hotels
The scaled-down Geneva Watch Days show will include Breitling, Bulgari, Gérald Genta, Girard-Perregaux, MB&F, Ulysse Nardin, De Bethune, and Urwerk, and the organizers for the event have been open about their willingness to add other brands, notably mentioning both Chopard and H. Moser & Cie.
This initiative was first introduced by Jean-Christophe Babin, CEO of Bulgari, whose brand was among the first to cancel its participation in Baselworld 2020, citing fears over the coronavirus. Babin remarked that the event will be geared towards European retailers and media to more easily meet with a collection of prominent Swiss brands. In a press release, the organizers for Geneva Watch Days have said that the alternative to the show being a series of disparate roadshows scattered across Europe, with an additional impetus for this new event allowing brands, retailers, and media to “[save] a lot of time.”
As the coronavirus threat has only risen in Europe since the initial cancellations of Watches & Wonders and Baselworld late last week, it remains unclear how the Geneva Watch Days event will be safely organized and effectively executed. The steering committee for the event announced that it will “liaise and work closely with the State and City of Geneva and relevant institutions to guarantee the maximum safety and sanitary protection for participants.” Despite the significant challenge posed by both the time frame and virus, the initiative has gained the full support of the Council of State of Geneva, which is warmly welcoming the participating brands for having selected to hold the event in the city.