Our Interview With Fabienne Lupo In Geneva: “SIHH 2019: An Excellent Year”
Fabienne Lupo has been head of the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH) since 2010, raising global awareness of the art of watchmaking and feeding the dreams of passionate fans around the world. She shared her impressions of the 29th SIHH with Watchonista at the end of 4 intense days at the show.
Watchonista: Hello Fabienne, the last day is coming to a close, how do you feel, and what are the new trends this year?
Fabienne Lupo: I feel great, just like you (laughs)! The show has been very intense and very full. Feedback has been excellent from the participating brands, professionals, and private individuals. Attendance is on the rise, it’s up 15% this year, with more than 23,000 people in 4 days, including 1,400 journalists from around world and more than 3,000 passionate watch lovers who came for the public afternoon. The new condensed formula works well, and Haute Horology continues to thrive. For the first time, final customers and VIP’s outnumbered professional attendees. The show reflects the evolution of our industry perfectly, reaching out to new audiences. The FHH’s role at SIHH is to bring the industry together and to expand public awareness, especially among younger generations who represent our future customers. New features like the LIVE Auditorium and the LAB greatly contributed to the 380,000 posts of our #SIHH2009 hashtag as of the morning of Friday 18th. All of our new initiatives also are intended to spark interest in careers in the watch industry and to showcase the industry’s incredible technological achievements.
W: The SIHH has been growing steadily for the past 10 years. How are you planning to sustain this growth?
Fabienne Lupo: Thank you for mentioning this. People tend to overlook our growth, and focus only on the “challenges” of the industry. For us the goal is clear: to continue to transmit a coherent message in order to expand worldwide awareness of fine watchmaking. The concept remains the same: we are a media in the very literal sense of the term. We bring all the audiences of the industry together. The format is adapting to the ongoing structural changes of distribution and targeted customers, and to the exponential increase in digital communication. The SIHH show is the perfect place to perpetuate the interpersonal exchange of information and ideas. We clearly saw it this year in the growing popularity of the forum and the conferences that were broadcasted in live streaming across numerous television channels. The same thing happened with our LAB, where innovations like the augmented craftsmanship met with impressive success. The global reach of the SIHH 2019 is, so far, 260 million people around the world. It is tremendous! This is our core mission. We will continue to strive to maintain the show’s exclusivity while developing its openness to the world. It is a fine line, but I feel that we are succeeding quite well so far.
W: Is the FHH going to relaunch its other show locations? In Asia and the United States, or other locales?
Fabienne Lupo: We clearly see that the B to C [business to consumer] format has tremendous appeal. The demand is strong in Asia and the US. We have a lot of ideas on the table. Watches & Wonders in Miami works very well. Of course, Asia won’t be forgotten but the next show will not necessarily be in Hong Kong. You will know more very soon.
W: Van Cleef & Arpels absence this year and the announcement of Audemars Piguet and Richard Mille’s departures in 2020 have drawn attention and speculation. How will this impact the SIHH?
Fabienne Lupo: It is too early to talk about impact, but of course it affects us. It’s the brands’ decision, and their strategies are their own. Some leave, some come on board for the first time, and some come back. We are thrilled to have welcomed Girard-Perregaux and Ulysse Nardin back, to see the return of Bovet and to have Hermès with us this year. It’s the normal life of shows. We will see what new surprises we’ll have next year.
W: Another hot topic at the moment is the SIHH and Baselworld dates’ alignment next year. What do you think about the change?
Fabienne Lupo: Let’s not forget that these two fairs happened at the same time for years. It’s only been 10 years since SIHH and Baselworld were at the same time. The industry evolves, and new challenges are rising. This alignment is clearly intended to make the people in the industry’s lives easier. Many people are already thanking us for it. The agenda for the brands is also set for 2020 until 2024. Indeed, the crucial “time-to-market” for novelties will be improved for many of them. The second benefit is that this concentration of events will amplify the voice of the watchmaking industry, which is everyone’s goal. Yours too, by the way (laughs)! After all, it is our shared love for fine watchmaking that brings us all together. This what we all want to communicate, perpetuate, and develop.
W: Thank you, Fabienne, for these clear and wise words. We hope you will have time to rest a bit this week-end.
Fabienne Lupo: Thank you…I hope I will too!