Breitling exits Baselworld, Rolex expands fair space in 2020

Breitling CEO Georges Kern still leaves the door open for 2021.

Breitling, one of Switzerland's most popular watch brands, has decided not to return to Baselworld in 2020 (All photos: Breitling)

The departure of Breitling is dealing another blow to Baselworld, which has seen more than half of the exhibiting brands leaving the show. The Swiss watchmaker will instead hold its own sales and communication event next year, called the Breitling Summit.

While Breitling CEO Georges Kern praised the watch fair’s management and new direction, he also claimed that the brand won’t be exhibiting next year due to the show’s new dates. This is because Baselworld would shift its dates to later in April so it can take place on the heels of rival Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH)

Breitling is one of the major players at the prestigious Baselworld

Kerns elaborated, “We would like to emphasise that the extensive innovations developed and implemented by Baselworld’s management under [managing director] Michel Loris-Melikoff in such a short time frame have had a positive impact and can lay the foundation to take Baselworld in a new direction in the future.”

Unlike the definitive decision made by the Swatch Group to leave the watch fair, Kerns didn’t rule out returning in 2021. “We will decide whether we will return to Baselworld from 2021 onward at a later date, and this will depend on the timing of the event and the possibility of holding the Breitling Summit.” 

A little while after Breitling delivered its statement, Baselworld responded with one of its own, stating that “there have been very constructive and cooperative discussions with the watch manufacturer in recent weeks” and the the show “maintains excellent rapport with Breitling”. 

Kern: "The platform [Summit] enables the company to be more flexible, and to interact on a personal level with its customers, media representatives, sales partners, and collectors."

Breitling’s withdrawal marks the exit of a powerhouse, prompting many others to reconsider the need of using such events to sell their products. On a happier note, Tudor — Rolex’s sister brand — has announced that it will be present with its own booth from 2020. Rolex will also expand its booth accordingly with the addition of the Tudor area — a clear vote of confidence from the Rolex Group to Baselworld. 



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