It’s been a long time coming. Almost everyone in the watch and jewelry world remembers the last live show they attended before the pandemic hit and lockdown sequestered us at home. In 2020, planned exhibitions from mid-March onward came to a screeching halt and show organizers and brands were left scrambling trying to figure out how to communicate with consumers, retailers and press. Haphazard might be the best word to describe the semi-chaos that ensued. By later in the year, brands were figuring out Zoom and Team meetings and a small sense of organization crept in. By the early part of this year, 2021, big shows such as Watches & Wonders Geneva had a great digital platform, complete with new watch releases, as well as panel discussions and more. Yes, there was the Watches & Wonders exhibit in Shanghai just after the on-line Geneva edition, but the stringent COVID-19 guidelines made it impossible for those outside of the region to attend. In short, none of it took the place of live, well-attended shows. Watches and jewelry are still items we need to see, touch and talk about in person. Finally, it looks as though we can.
Slowly, cautiously optimistic groups, organizations and brands are planning events. Already a few small USA jewelry shows have taken place, and more are on the horizon. The Couture Show is planning a larger scale event with watch and jewelry brands exhibiting in August of 2021. This show, which usually takes place in the end of May and beginning days of June in Vegas is slated for the 24 through the 26 of August. The AGTA Gem Fair will take place there concurrently. There may be restrictions on large parties and dinners, but that could change. And, the time frame is reduced from the previous years, but that’s okay.
In late August and early September, a group of watch brands is planning to come together in Geneva for what it calls Geneva Watch Days. Last year, this show also took place live but with careful planning and social distance guidelines. Similarly, in September, the Vicenzaoro Fair is planning a live event, as well. Following that, in November, Dubai Watch Week with its Horological Forum, is planning a full-scale exhibition, with brands, live panel discussions and more.
Provided the virus doesn’t mutate yet again and the cold weather doesn’t usher in a renewed fear, the late summer and fall could be exactly what the industry needs to infuse excitement and even boost enthusiasm. What we all need is a motivational speaker or two at these 2021 events to remind us that “this, too, shall pass” and that we will all bounce back. I know there is a brighter horizon for 2022, as well, and some shows, like Watches & Wonders Geneva, have already set their dates.
In addition to shows, some brands are already planning and hosting events, particularly outdoor events that make gathering easier. I recently returned from a trip to the Florida Keys with Ulysse Nardin (that story coming next week here on ATimelyPerspective). I also have several other brand trips on the drawing board for this summer.
While many in the watch world thought we could get by just conducting digital events, the truth is that we need this full immersion into the brands again that comes from in-person shows and business trips. The truth is that we all need camaraderie and personal interaction. I think now that the digital presentation and interactive platforms have thoroughly worked their way into our lives, they will never disappear. And they shouldn’t. They are a great tool for interim events, announcements and more. I think we will witness a blend of both worlds as we move forward, and I am looking forward to that. See you at a show soon. And remember, what happens in Vegas (or Dubai, Vicenza, Geneva or elsewhere) stays in Vegas.