The disappearance of the long-running watch and jewelry trade show Baselworld understandably made waves in the industry last year. Mostly because it wasn’t just the COVID-19 pandemic that hammered the final nail into its looming coffin, but a steady decline for what was once a show that commanded the utmost attention in the world of luxury goods – a swift crashing-and-burning. Credited to alleged complacency by organisers MCH Group and the departure of big drawcards like TAG Heuer, Hublot, and Zenith. Now, Baselworld is back, sort of… rebranding as ‘HourUniverse’ and moving in a new direction.
Hot on the trail of Watches & Wonders, the concept of HourUniverse seems to be pointing towards some kind of virtual-led fair that will roll throughout the year with various partner watch brands, complemented with a live indoor-outdoor event. The more open and elongated approach of HourUniverse is a stark contrast to the Baselworld of yesteryear, which would showcase roughly 1,200 exhibiting brands and draw 100,000 international visitors to Basel, Switzerland each year.
Actual dates for the live event are still up in the air, although a vague and rather dull promotion video for HourUniverse surfaced in October of last year, with the tagline “It’s We Time”. The video, uploaded to YouTube, implies that April 8th to 12th will be the range of either the live event or the launch of HourUniverse as a concept. That would put HourUniverse in direct competition with a 38-brand digital-only event hosted by rivals Watches and Wonders – also a trade show for watches and jewellery.
“Our ongoing discussions with industry stakeholders have clearly demonstrated that the demand from the wider community for a large annual gathering in Switzerland, in the heart of Europe, is now stronger than ever,” says HourUniverse M.D. Michel Loris-Melikoff.
“We are working to make HourUniverse not only the best business platform but also a superb experience for our visitors. The pleasure of all being together, seeing clients and the press again, discovering and creating new opportunities, facilitating transparency, openness and conviviality are at the heart of our endeavours.”
Whether or not Loris-Melikoff and MCH Group can lead HourUniverse back to the reputation Baselworld once enjoyed remains to be seen. With many of the show’s biggest watch brands now pushing forth with their own press events and virtual product launches, the question of relevance remains.