Swatch’s Exit Sparks Questions Over Baselworld’s Future

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What next for Baselworld? With the news Monday that Swatch Group, the world’s largest watch company and Baselworld’s largest exhibitor, is pulling out of the fair, the question becomes what its organizers do next. Swatch owns not only the famed inexpensive watch brand, but also Longines, Tissot, Breguet and Omega. “Today everything has become more transparent, fast-moving and instantaneous. Accordingly, a different rhythm and a different approach are needed,” Swatch Group said in an e-mailed statement. So far, other companies have signaled their intent to stick with the event, including Breitling and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, another show heavyweight with brands Hublot, Zenith, Bulgari and Tag Heuer. In addition to attending Baselworld in March, the group has for two years parked a boat on Lake Geneva to tap into the flow of fairgoers at rival fair Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie, or SIHH, which takes place in Geneva in January and features mainly the brands owned by LVMH’s rival Compagnie Financière Richemont SA. Analysts noted Swatch’s move came amidst a backdrop of change in an industry that increasingly reaches consumers through digital avenues. “Swatch leaving Baselworld looks like an existential blow for the fair — even if major groups like Rolex, Patek Philippe

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