Recently, LVMH announced that it will hold its first Group watch exhibition in Dubai in January of 2020. The company was fast to add that it was not leaving Baselworld, but rather offering a more timely showcasing of its products. In my recent article on my PerfectTiming column on Forbes.com, I discussed why it is that several big groups, as well as certain big brands, have opted for their own summits. “As brands re-examine the need for trade shows, and the need to be in closer, more constant contact with their retail partners, the press and the ultimate consumer, a new trend is on the rise: individual watch summits.” Reasons also include more appropriate timing for retail partners, and a more cohesive presentation of the brand or the Group and its individual brand.
This past year during Baselworld, Breitling — which exhibited — began holding a host of summits at Baselworld. In fact, Breitling began a version of those summits back in 2018 as traveling “road shows.” Additionally, it has had pop-up summits around the world — much like those held during Baselworld. It came as no surprise, then, when Georges Kern, CEO of Breitling, announced after the show that the brand would not return in 2020 — citing the change in timing of the show (from March to May) as a main reason.
In fact, in 2020, SIHH moves from January to late April and Baselworld moves from March to early May so the two shows are back to back as they were decades ago. This later timeframe simply doesn’t work for certain brands and retailers. In a statement issued today by Stéphane Bianchi, President of the LVMH Watch Division, when the Group announced its Dubai summit, Bianchi said, “We remain very supportive and loyal to Baselworld and the Swiss watchmaking industry. However, it was not possible for us to go 13 months without a global presentation of our products and brands. This additional event further confirms the LVMH commitment to the strategic and profitable watch category.”
Additionally, the brands that have been holding summits instead of showing at exhibitions seem to enjoy the format better because it enables the brands to get more focused information out to consumers, retailers and press on their own terms. Attendees get a more full immersion into the brand or group. According to Efraim Grinberg, the Movado Group Summit has been a huge success for all of the brands under the Group umbrella, for its retail partners and ultimately for consumers. Throughout the entire four-day summit, the Movado Group holds panel discussions, product presentations, boutique-concept exhibitions and more — all while also offering guests enough downtime to enjoy the surroundings and digest the information.
As I said in my article on Forbes, “As a long-time veteran journalist (about 35 years now), I have seen the shows shrink, grow, repeat. I have been a supporter of the fact that retailers and press alike need the watch shows to continue as a viable platform for various reasons, including seeing a lot of product in one place at one time to spot trends, and having a lot of brand and retail executives in one place at one time to exchange ideas and information, as well as just to interact. It is through this camaraderie that everyone grows. Still, I must admit that these summits and group-specific efforts are typically very enriching and offer something the shows cannot: full brand immersion. I hope that both types of platforms continue to thrive.”