News from the watchmaking world has been fast and furious in recent weeks as these trying times raise unprecedented challenges. The mass exodus of brands from centenarian fair Baselworld, whose postponement to 2021 was a public relations nightmare, dominated headlines for days, leaving stakeholders to wonder what comes next.
Quick to respond to the chaos surrounding the COVID-19 global pandemic is Watches & Wonders, the prestigious Geneva-based trade show formerly known as the Salon de la Haute Horlogerie. Rather than delay or cancel the fair altogether, organiser Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH) swiftly moved its format online, providing a digital platform for its 30 participating brands to showcase their novelties for the year.
On April 25, at noon CET (6pm Malaysian time), watchesandwonders.com will launch as a centralised portal featuring the latest in horological marvels and interactive expert content. Alongside watchmaking giants such as Cartier, IWC Schaffhausen, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Montblanc are independent labels the likes of A. Lange & Söhne, Laurent Ferrier, MB&F and Ulysse Nardin.
Visitors can browse through dedicated pages for each label to discover their respective universes and newest timepieces, as well as connect directly to the brands’ own sites and channels. On opening day, the FHH will stream a series of product launch presentations guided by brand executives in 10-minute videos, which will then be permanently accessible on the site.
Don’t worry about missing out on the expert opinions and analyses that would have been available on the ground at the fair: Included in the curation of educational content are insights into technological innovation; in-depth analyses of design, artistry and craftsmanship; trend forecasts; and business talks and commentary by industry specialists.
This is no stopgap measure either. The pandemic might have accelerated Watches & Wonders’ digitalisation but the trade show is taking the long-term view here, creating a ‘new global ecosystem’ by updating its content throughout the year with additional product launches planned for the summer, as well as e-commerce partnerships to attract afficionados and enhance its value.
Watchesandwonders.com is set to become a permanent flagship even after travel restrictions are lifted and physical events resume once again with the staging of Watches & Wonders Geneva in April 2020.