In big news in the watch world this morning, Watches & Wonders Geneva – the largest and most important global watch exhibition since the demise of Baselworld – announced that more brands will be joining the show in March (March 27-April 2) 2023 and that there is a shift in the relationship between the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH) and the show as it pertains to management. In fact, the Richemont Group, Patek Philippe and Rolex have joined forces to create the Watches and Wonders Geneva Foundation (WWGF).
The non-profit FHH foundation, originally established in 2005 by Audemars Piguet, Girard-Perregaux and Richemont, focuses on promoting watchmaking excellence around the world, and has been responsible since its formation for the management of what is today known as Watches & Wonders Geneva, which originally got its start in 1991 as the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH). The new WWGF will hold the same goals.
The previous arrangement wherein the FHH managed Watches & Wonders Geneva was fine until the past few years, when the other competing big watch show, Baselworld, was forced to close as many of the big brands jumped ship there to join Watches & Wonders Geneva (WWG). Among those brands, which made their physical appearance earlier this year at WWG for the first time: Patek Philippe, Rolex, Tudor, Chopard, Chanel, Grand Seiko, Hublot, Oris, TAG Heuer, Zenith and others.
The WWGF will also focus on arranging additional exhibitions in key cities around the world. WWGF will be managed by a Foundation Board, with Jean-Frederic Dufour as Chairman and Emmanuel Perrin as Vice Chairman. The current CEO of FHH, Matthieu Humair will become the CEO of WWGF. The rest of the board will consist of an Exhibition Committee.
Additionally, for the 2023 Watches & Wonders Geneva show, a host of smaller atelier brands and a few larger ones yet to be named are expected to be coming on board. In total, approximately 50 exhibitors will line of the halls of the Palexpo exhibition space next spring.
With so many brands planning to exhibit at WWG 2023, and with so many of them being brands from other big groups like LVMH and big independents like Rolex, Patek, Chopard, etc., a change in management and the formation of WWGF makes sense, not only from the perspective of how large the exhibition has become, but also in order to provide a strong backbone for the show moving forward.
(This article by Roberta Naas first appeared on Forbes.com.)