Thursday, January 20, 2022

Watches and Wondering - Waiting for Godot

With the dearth of new releases out there, and the notable silence from the fair's organizers, it is seeming less and less likely that 2022 (at least March/April) will see the return of large scale, in-person watch fairs in Geneva.


On the one hand, it appears that the latest COVID surge has peaked in several countries. But reaching the peak does not put us back to a safe infection level... at least not yet. Geneva is one of the strictest cantons in Switzerland in terms of health and safety policy, and for all of the foreign buyers and press that hope to come to attend a show there are quite a few hoops that they will have to jump through - I say this having travelled in September and November. And that's just to get into Switzerland. I will also make clear that I agree with Switzerland's stance. Which I guess means that Novak Djocovic won't be making any personal appearances at the Hublot booth in the near future.

China and Hong Kong represent the largest block of customers for Richemont and most likely LVMH and Kering. For those folks, getting to Switzerland is one thing. Coming back home? Well, that's quite the other. Lengthy quarantine requirements have marked a significant drop in travel both from and to this region. So with all of that being said, I don't expect that a lot of these folks will be opting to attend. And let's not even get started with the US, where (for better or worse) public health and safety has become more of a political issue than, well, a health and safety issue. Unless the Swiss government opts to drop the vaccination requirements for entry at the Zurich, Basel, and Geneva airports, a large swath of folks from North America will be staying home. 

That leaves the Middle East, Africa, South America and parts of Europe. This is not to say that these are not important markets or customers, but it is to say that they do not, unfortunately, represent the same percentage of turnover for the brands.

And lastly, there are the organizers of the show itself. Watches and Wonders, along with its predecessor the SIHH, went to great lengths to create an atmosphere of not only exclusivity, but exclusion in the past. And while it might be "the only game in town", I give Watches and Wonders about as much consideration as I do NOMOS
, which is to say I don't consider it at all.

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