Even before the pandemic took hold, the last couple of years have been chaotic for Switzerland’s major watch fairs, with many an unexpected turn of events before COVID-19 put an end to the physical event in 2020. But now it appears the world is back on track, with Watches & Wonders (W&W) slated to take place at end-March 2022 – as a physical event in its traditional Palexpo venue.
The return of W&W, now Switzerland’s only large-scale watch fair, feels long overdue.
Arguably the saga began in 2018 when watchmaking giant Swatch Group exited Baselworld, then still the largest jewellery and watch fair in the world. Its departure triggered a chain reaction that would eventually prove fatal for Baselworld. Stalwart exhibitors including Patek Philippe, Rolex, and Chanel pulled out of Baselworld, sealing the event’s fate – and resulting in a small kerfuffle over exhibition-fee refunds.
The brands departed Baselworld to join the fair in Geneva, then still known as SIHH. It was renamed W&W to welcome the new exhibitors – and ran headlong into a major public-health crisis. Only one physical watch fair took place in Switzerland in 2020, albeit it on a small scale. It was only in China that a full-scale W&W did happen, twice no less, demonstrating the frenzied demand for luxury watches there.
After a two-year hiatus, W&W till take place from March 30 to April 5, 2022, at Palexpo, the conventional hall beside Geneva’s airport that’s long been home to the city’s watch fair.
The exhibitors taking part in next year’s W&W have yet to be revealed, but 38 brands participated in the recent fair that took place in Shanghai. There will presumably be an even larger number taking part next year in Geneva, including giants like Rolex and Patek Philippe, since W&W has become Switzerland’s most important watch fair.
Assuming it goes according to plans, the upcoming W&W will be a blast. Stay tuned for more news.
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