Industry News: SIHH No More, Meet Watches & Wonders - Geneva
The Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH) is all in on the Watches & Wonders concept.
What started as consumer-focused fairs in Miami and Hong Kong, Watches & Wonders has now supplanted the mightiest of horological showcases. Beginning in 2020, the FHH will re-brand the SIHH as Watches & Wonders. This is a LOT to unpack, so let’s take it step by step.
The show that has been known as Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) since 1991 will see a total transformation in 2020. In theory, 2020's major watch shows will start with Watches & Wonders Miami, that has taken place in Miami’s Design District each February. We’ve been told this show is still very much on the calendar for 2020, but final details and dates are yet to be announced.
For the purposes of today’s article, we are going to take a look at the way this re-branding affects the SIHH Salon in Geneva. As you’ve already read on Watchonista (HERE), SIHH is moving to April to more closely align its timing with Baselworld. While many expected a traditional SIHH fair for 2020, the FHH is going all-in on an entirely new concept.
Watches & Wonders - The Salon
The show that has been called SIHH will see a re-branding to 'The Salon.' The 2020 version is still set to take place at Geneva’s Palexpo Convention Center – yet the similarities to editions of years past end at the door. For 2020, visitors will experience an entirely different salon.
The FHH says in their press release that 2020's Salon will be, "More outward-looking, more experiential, more interactive and more connected.” In addition, the previously invite-only press and retailer days (typically occurring a few days prior to the public days) will be abolished. For the first time ever, consumers will be able to attend The Salon on any of the open days for a fee of 300 CHF.
Two additional components from prior years will also see their return in 2020, The Lab and Live concepts will bring immersive experiences to all attendees. Expect CEO presentations, workshops, exhibitions of exclusive innovations, and a hearty focus on the world of digital and social media. According to the FHH, the new focus will be on conversation and content. As a media we will welcome this with open arms!
Watches & Wonders - The Salon is set to take place from April 25 to 29 at Geneva’s Palexpo.
Watches & Wonders - In The City
And now for something entirely different. For 2020, the FHH is introducing Watches & Wonders - In The City. It's a showcase that will take place in and around Geneva, which will see the city involved as an extension of the Watches & Wonders experience. The best part? Watches & Wonders - In The City is entirely open to the public and free of charge.
Most notably, the In The City concept will include a slew of brands that don't currently show at SIHH, including the mighty Patek Philippe and their Geneva-based Museum. Expect boutique showcases, manufacture visits, and brand activations that will take place all over the city of Geneva.
"SIHH's transformation into Watches & Wonders cements a crucial rapprochement with end customers and watch connoisseurs. For an artisan brand such as MB&F, this broader concept gives us a platform for reaching new audiences. We are very proud to be part of this project which begins in Geneva and extends around the world," says Maximilian Büsser, CEO of MB&F.
FHH's ‘In The City' concept aims to present a rich program of activities open to everyone. This inclusive event also has the support of the City and Canton of Geneva. Expect more news on this front.
Watches & Wonders – In The City will also take place from April 25 to 29 at locations throughout Geneva.
What to expect from Watches & Wonders – Geneva
The FHH is also relocating its office to the center of Geneva, a strong indication of the strengthening of the organization. Clearly, the Fondation means business. As we know, watch trade fairs are in desperate need of an evolution, and the daring concept of Watches & Wonders could be precisely what retailers, collectors, and the media have been yearning for.
"Hermès welcomes this ambition to open up the Salon. It gives a wider audience the opportunity to discover our exceptional watchmaking savoir-faire both in Geneva and internationally," declared Laurent Dordet, CEO of Hermès Watches.
Watches & Wonders – Geneva will be taking place in and around the Canton of Geneva from April 25 – 29, 2020. Stay tuned to Watchonista as we bring you more news and updates on what is sure to be a busy 2020.