February 28, 2020
What many have been expecting has now been confirmed: BaselWorld 2020 is officially postponed.
In a release today, event organizers cited a desire to ensure health and safety amid the growing spread of coronavirus (Covid-19). The other driving factor for their decision, as stated, is the Swiss Government’s ban on large gatherings of over 1,000 people, put into place today. While that ban has only a vague timeline of “until at least March 15,” it seems the decision makers at Baselworld aren’t taking any chances.
The show will be postponed to January 28, 2021; while it hasn’t been explicitly stated, it seems the upshot is that the 2020 show has been cancelled, and the 2021 show will happen early.
While Baselworld isn’t the only show cancelled due to the outbreak (Watches and Wonders, also in Geneva, cancelled yesterday), the postponement will be an especially hard hit for a show already experiencing an exodus crisis. Over the last year, Seiko, Breitling, the Swatch Group (with brands like Omega, Blancpain, and Tissot) and the Richemont Group (Vacheron Constantin, Paiget, Cartier, and others) have all bowed out for good, no longer seeing the benefit of partaking in the massive expo.
Even before the organizers announced the postponement, Bulova, Citizen, and Bulgari had already made clear they would not be showing specifically as a result of coronavirus.
What all of this means for Baselworld and it’s future isn’t clear yet; the show was set to roll out significant changes this year in an effort to re-establish itself. With an even longer dormancy period than usual, brands may well find themselves realizing that there are more cost-effective and direct ways for them to engage consumers. If that happens, we’re certain to see the exodus continue.