For most collectors, there’s always one coveted piece that stands above the rest—the so-called grail, if you will. And in the world of vintage watches, most would agree that the Patek Philippe Reference 2499 holds that honor.
Widely regarded as one of the greatest timepieces designed by the renowned Swiss watchmaker, Reference 2499, a manual-winding Perpetual Calendar Chronograph with Moonphase produced in very low quantities, is the quintessential Patek.
Few have had the privilege to see a Reference 2499 in real life, let alone touch one. Watch experts recognize this very special timepiece as one that perfectly combines incredible exterior design with a masterful internal movement.
Given the rarity and collective fascination with the Patek Philippe ref. 2499, when one comes up to the auction block, the vintage watch world pays attention. Collectors won’t want to miss the chance to see it, study it, and most importantly, share a room with other fellow enthusiasts whilst witnessing the inevitable bidding battle that will ensue to claim this watch as his or her own.
Sotheby’s New York on December 15th will be hosting a holiday season watch auction with a magnificent example of the revered Patek Philippe Reference 2499 as the star of the event.
Few were made
Succeeding Reference 1518 and preceding Reference 3970, Patek Philippe produced Reference 2499 from 1950 until 1985. Despite only 349 pieces ever made, there are four distinct series of the ref. 2499 to note.
The first series was in production from 1950 until the mid-1950s and features square chronograph pushers, applied Arabic numerals, and a tachymeter scale on the dial. There are less than four-dozen of these ref. 2499 watches in existence. The second series, manufactured from 1955 until 1966, include round chronograph pushers, applied baton or Arabic numerals, and a tachymeter scale on the dial.
Next in line was the third series, made from 1960 until 1978, with round chronograph pushers, applied baton indexes, and no tachymeter scale on the dial.
Finally, the fourth and last series of the Reference 2499 is dated from 1978 to 1985 (with later examples taking on the reference 2499/100) and the watches have round chronograph pushers, applied baton numerals, no tachymeter scale, and sapphire crystals shielding the dials.
Fourth series star
The Patek Philippe Reference 2499/100 coming up for sale on December 15 in New York at Sotheby’s belongs to the fourth series family. And it is simply a magnificent piece manufactured in 1981. While the creamy dial is in very good condition it is not perfect.
The dial does have some discoloration owing to the humid conditions of the Southern United States, where its owner resides. The customary applied gold batons mark out the hours while the three subsidiary dials for minutes, date/moonphase, and running seconds sit at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock, respectively. The double windows displaying the day and month are placed at 12 o’clock while the gold hands at the center are in the “Dauphine” style.
A closer look at the dial reveals the coveted “Tiffany” branding, which makes this example of the Reference 2499 even more exceptional and rare. Sotheby’s consulted with Patek Philippe to see how many Tiffany marked examples were made but there are no records in-house.
The winding crown is furnished with the Patek Philippe logo and of course, the chronograph pushers are round in shape. The interior of the yellow gold case back is engraved with Patek Philippe Co – Genève – Swiss – 2499 – 100 – 2.779.174.” Housed inside the yellow gold case is the manual-winding Caliber 13-130, featuring 23 jewels and numbered 869.425. Potential bidders will be happy to know that the watch keeps very good time.
This Patek 2499 is fitted with a brown lizard Patek Philippe strap with a gold Patek Philippe buckle. The width in between the lugs is 20mm and 14mm at the buckle end. The interior of the buckle is engraved with “To AIL – Love – BKL – 7-5-96” and both the case and buckle include all the required poinçons or hallmarks.
Under the sofa
The watch was first appraised 20 years ago but it was lost for some time inside the estate. After a long period of searching, this superb Patek Philippe 2499 was finally found inside the house, underneath the sofa. No one knows quite how long it had been lying there, hidden from the world.
As a one-owner Patek Philippe Reference 2499, this is the first time this watch comes to auction. The estimated price is between $500,000 and $800,000, even though I think it is a conservative figure.
For any inquiries about the watch, please contact Richard Lopez, SVP, Senior Specialist, and Head of Online Sales at Sotheby’s at [ Richard.Lopez@sothebys.com ]
Wishing you a safe, happy, and joyful season.
Laurent Martinez is the proprietor of Laurent Fine Watches, Greenwich, Connecticut. Read more by him at blog.laurentfinewatches.com or visit his store’s site at www.laurentfinewatches.com
Patek Philippe this week launches a platinum-cased Grand Complication, the Ref. 6301P Grande and Petite Sonnerie, Minute Repeater with Jumping Seconds, the Geneva watchmaker’s primary technical watch debut for 2020.
With its black grand feu enamel dial, slanted Breguet numerals and relatively unadorned time and power reserve indications, the new watch understates its impressive and complex chiming mechanism. While eyeing a classically presented time display, a wearer can also place an ear to the 44.8mm case and enjoy a rarely orchestrated symphony of three gongs: a grande sonnerie (full strike), petite sonnerie (small strike) and an on-demand minute repeater.
Patek Philippe has also added an unexpected layer of complexity to the new watch by incorporating a jumping seconds indicator, prominently displayed at the 6 o’clock position on the dial. Patek Philippe looked to its Reference 5275 from 2014 for inspiration on this complication, as that chiming model boasted jumping hours, minutes and seconds.
Patek Philippe watchmakers, well-versed in designing and building the brand’s highly regarded and extensive range of chiming watches, developed the new caliber GS 36-750 PS IRM movement directly inspired by Caliber 300 used in the Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300 from 2014.
Unlike most chiming watches from Patek Philippe and elsewhere, the new watch’s chime control center is located below the 6 o’clock position rather than on the left side of the case. On this watch, the selector can be adjusted to petite sonnerie mode (left side), grande sonnerie (center) and silence (right). The user activates the minute repeater on request with the pusher in the winding crown.
Because Patek Philippe opted to place that strike mode selector at 6 o’clock on the case, the watchmaker needed to move its traditional small-diamond platinum case indicator to the side of the case at the 12 o’clock position.
Two series-connected twin mainspring barrels power the new caliber GS 36-750 PS IRM movement. One assures a power reserve of 24 hours for the striking mechanism while the second ensures a 72-hour power reserve for the movement.
All this chiming and timing occurs within a platinum case that may look familiar. Inspired by the Ref. 5370 split-seconds chronograph Patek Philippe presented in 2015, the case features rounded contours, a concave bezel and a slightly cambered sapphire crystal.
In summary, the new Patek Philippe Ref. 6301P Grande Sonnerie includes these six complications:
Movement power-reserve indicator
Strikework power-reserve indicator
In addition, the new watch offers unique technical achievements that have resulted in the Geneva watchmaker earning three patents, which Patek Philippe describes below:
Isolation of the grande sonnerie in the silence mode (Patent CH 704 950 B1). In the silence mode, this mechanism totally isolates the grande sonnerie from the power flow and eliminates energy consumption.
Selection of the strike work mode (Patent CH 706 080 B1). This mechanism enables the selection of the strike work mode (petite sonnerie, grande sonnerie, silence) with a single lever and a single slide switch. Two slide switches were formerly required for this operation.
Jumping display with a jumping seconds wheel (Patent CH 707 181 A2). This innovative mechanism for jumping displays does not require springs and levers but instead uses wheels and a release lever that instantaneously unblocks the wheel train every second, and features a coiled return spring as the only power element. The advantage of this system is that it makes energy consumption easier to regulate and control.
Patek Philippe will offer the new Ref. 6301P Grande Sonnerie on a shiny black, hand-stitched alligator leather strap with square scales, secured with a fold-over clasp. The price for the limited production watch is available upon request.
Specifications: Patek Philippe Ref. 6310P Grande and Petite Sonnerie, Minute Repeater with Jumping Seconds
Movement: Patek Philippe Caliber GS 36-750 PS IRM, manual winding, minute repeater with 3 classic gongs, grande sonnerie, petite sonnerie, jumping small seconds at 6 o’clock, power reserve indicators for the movement (72h) and for the strike work (24h), frequency of 25,200 bph (3.5 Hz), power reserve of 72 hours, strike work power reserve of 24 hours.
Dial: Grand Feu black enamel with glazed finish, gold applied Breguet numerals, 18-karat gold dial plate, white gold leaf-shaped hands with luminescent coating.
Case: 44.8 mm by 12mm platinum, humidity-and dust-protected only (not water-resistant), interchangeable solid and sapphire crystal case backs.
Among the three watches Patek Philippe unveiled this week, this Ref. 5303R-001 Minute Repeater Tourbillon is possibly the most distinctive, in part because the watch is the newest, most contemporary design among the debuts.
While the other two debuts, Reference 5270J-001 Perpetual Calendar Chronograph and Reference 5370P-011 Split-Seconds Chronograph, represent line extensions for classically designed watches available since, respectively, 2018 and 2015, the new Ref. 5303R-001 modifies a newer design debuted last year as a limited edition of twelve watches during Patek Philippe’s ‘grand exhibition’ in Singapore.
Where that Ref. 5303 appeared accented in red to commemorate the Singapore flag, this new version offers the same open, dial-free architecture but with a black minutes track and a gold seconds hand.
Here, Patek Philippe again reworks the manual-wind R TO 27 PS minute repeater caliber to emphasize its chiming operation. As a result, the repeater is fully visible on the watch’s dial side, where Patek Philippe has repositioned the caliber’s gong and hammers.
This allows the wearer to both hear and see the repeater mechanism’s hammers and gongs as they chime the time without taking the watch off the wrist – a first for any Patek Philippe grand complication.
Patek Philippe has skeletonized the caliber and then carefully hand-finished all its remaining bridges and surfaces. The Geneva brand’s finishers have decorated the movement’s plate with Genevan circular graining, applied a perlage to the recesses and decorated the hammers with a circular satin finish.The tourbillon
The tourbillon is even more transparent than the minute repeater as it’s visible from the front and the back of the watch.
From the back, the viewer can eye the back of the tourbillon case, exactly opposite the dial-side seconds subdial at 6 o’clock. Patek Philippe finishers have filigreed the tourbillon’s steel components until they sparkle – a nice contrast to the rose gold back plate.
The watch’s 42mm rose-gold case notably features a wide polished bezel framing a black-lacquered sapphire-crystal rim. Patek Philippe has also placed leaf-shaped white-gold inlays along the watch’s the sides (including the repeater slide) and the sides of the lugs.
This somewhat surprising naturalistic design element –also seen shaping the white gold, black-lacquered hands – nicely balances the watch’s contemporary skeleton caliber.
The Patek Philippe Ref. 5303R-001 Minute Repeater Tourbillon emphasizes both Patek Philippe’s mastery of the minute repeater and the depth of its artisanal arsenal.
Now available in limited production (though not as a limited edition) without the initial model’s red-tinted accents, this chiming watch will undoubtedly attract serious collectors who seek both Patek Philippe’s technical acumen as well as its contemporary aesthetic combined into one highly complicated watch.
Price: Upon request.
Specifications: Patek Philippe Ref. 5303R-001 Minute Repeater Tourbillon
Movement: Manual-wind Caliber R TO 27 PS minute repeater with classic gongs, tourbillon, small seconds, 365 parts, golden plate decorated with circular Geneva striping. Frequency: 21,600 semi-oscillations/hour (3 Hz) with a power reserve of 48 hours maximum.
Dial: Transparent sapphire, black hour circle with minute markers printed in white and golden powdered dots, pierced black lacquered leaf-shaped hands in white gold.
Case: 42mm by 12.13mm rose gold, white gold decorative inserts, humidity- and dust-protected only (not water-resistant), sapphire crystal case back, UV-protected sapphire crystal glass.
The new watch, to be issued as a limited edition of 1,000, features a blue-grey central dial embossed with a light-reflecting ‘carbon’ pattern surrounded by a white railway track scale hour circle. The wide bezel, rare among Calatrava models, frames pierced baton hands (that might remind you of the 2017 Ref. 6006 Calatrava), applied and luminous Arabic numerals and a date at 3 o’clock.
In addition to the steel, a case material rarely used by Patek Philippe, the Geneva watchmaker also utilizes several other special features on the new watch, including a calfskin strap with white decorative seams and an embossed structure meant to recall fabric, all matching the color and structure of the central dial.
The commemorative Patek Philippe Ref. 6007A-001 Calatrava also comes with a sapphire-crystal caseback, exposing automatic Caliber 324 SC, and marked with a Calatrava cross and the “New Manufacture 2019” inscription. The year noted is when the first work groups moved to the new production building.
Under one roof
Patek Philippe’s newest manufacturing facility, now complete after five years of construction, unites all of the manufacture’s Genevan facilities under one roof. With ten floors, it expands the 1996 building complex and anticipates the manufacture’s growth in the next twenty to thirty years.
Patek Philippe describes the new building as appearing like an ocean liner from the exterior and filled with references to Patek Philippe watches inside. The building’s curved hallways are “reminiscent of the gently rounded octagon of the Nautilus case,” while the fire escape ladders offer a silhouette that resembles leaf-shaped hands.
The new Patek Philippe Ref. 6007A-001 Calatrava will be issued as a limited edition of 1,000 watches. Price: $28,351.
Specifications: Patek Philippe Ref. 6007A-001 Calatrava
Movement: Caliber 324 S C. Self-winding. Date in an aperture. Sweep seconds, central rotor in 21-karat gold. Frequency: 28,800 semi-oscillation per hour (4 Hz). Power reserve: 45 hours.
Dial: Gray-blue, dial center embossed with “carbon” pattern, gold applied numerals with luminescent coating. White gold white lacquered baton-style hands with luminescent coating.
Case: 40mm by 9.07mm steel, water-resistant to 30 meters, sapphire crystal case back decorated with the Calatrava cross and the inscription “New Manufacture 2019”.
Strap: Calfskin, embossed with fabric pattern, gray-blue. Prong buckle.
Chrono24 is a marketplace for luxury watches that offers buyers and sellers the opportunity to buy, and sell, pre-owned, vintage, and new luxury watches.
As iW recently discovered in an interview with Chrono 24 CEO Tim Stracke, Chrono24 does not consider itself strictly as a watch dealer, but instead call itself “a marketplace that provides a service with the technology to connect buyers and sellers, to provide transparency to the market and to make transactions safe through the platform.” Below we excerpt the highlights of our interview.
iW: How long has Chrono24 been in existence?
Tim Stracke: The website was established in 2003, and my partners and I took over the site in 2010. We were able to turn it into a real business at a time when online business was starting to evolve. Today, we have close to 300 employees as our headquarters in Karlsruhe, Germany, and we also have satellite offices in Berlin, Hong Kong, and New York that run Chrono24 as a global business. However, besides operating this company together, we are also very enthusiastic about watches.
The vast majority of our employees owns at least one watch that means a lot to them – altogether, we have quite a versatile watch collection. Through this, we probably reach one out of every three luxury watch lovers worldwide (including 9 million unique viewers every month), providing them access to more than 470,000 watch listings from over 100 countries.
When you took it over in 2010 – what changed?
For the first seven years, Chrono24 was pretty much a classifieds site where you could find watches and contact the seller, leaving the transaction entirely between buyer and seller. We converted this into a transactional marketplace, investing a massive amount of energy into make the transaction process secure. Now, the buyer transfers payment to our escrow account, and we make sure that the buyer is happy before forwarding payout to the seller.
We also offer a lot of additional services around the purchasing process. We have a magazine, as well as a lot of data you can use to easily compare prices. One of our more interesting features is the Chrono24 Watch Collection, which enables users to upload their watches and track their watch portfolio like they would their stocks.
In addition to this, we recently added two new functions to our app: The first is our Virtual Showroom, an AR tool that allows you to try on 12 very popular models virtually. These include the Rolex Submariner Date, Omega Speedmaster Professional, Patek Philippe Nautilus, and Audemars Piguet Royal Oak.
Our latest addition is called the Watch Scanner, where you can simply scan any watch with your camera to automatically identify it. From there, you can add it to your Watch Collection or even create a listing.
We extrapolate the data from the tens of thousands of transactions made on our platform every per month to establish a fairly accurate range of values. For this calculation, we include actual sales prices from past sales, as well as current listing prices on Chrono24. If we don’t have enough data to make a valid estimation – for example, for rather rare reference numbers – we also include listing prices from the past. This calculation is refreshed daily and provides a representation of a watch’s performance over time.
Also, our algorithm ignores any extraordinarily high or low sales prices to avoid inaccurate estimated values. An added value for the user here is that if they’re worried about paying too much for a watch, they can follow it in a separate section of their Watch Collection and immediately see its current and historic value to help make the decision as to which watch to buy even easier. Plus, once they’ve made the purchase, they can add it to their own digital collection to monitor its financial performance over time. We’ve done this with some of our employee’s watches. It’s fun to use.
Is the condition very important?
Of course condition matters, but with watches, it is more about the rarity than the condition in many cases. This is especially true when it comes to limited editions like the Omega Speedy Tuesdays and rare vintage models; it’s quite fascinating how these timepiece perform over time.
You also provide a Watch Scanner tool in your app. How does it work?
It’s actually pretty easy to use: Once you’ve launched the Watch Scanner tool in the Chrono24 app, simply take a picture of the watch you want to identify. The tool compares the photo with a database of around 15,000 watches and almost 2 million images from more than 6.5 million previous and current listings on Chrono24.
Based on this data, the tool can recognize the model and provides the user with other information like the reference number and its estimated market value according to the Chrono24 Watch Collection.
So far, the tool is able to identify around 15,000 different watch models, which is a lot. But that’s just a small percentage of all existing luxury watches out there. However, since it is based on a learning artificial intelligence program, the Watch Scanner is constantly evolving. We will soon be releasing an improved version that will include a feedback function and be able to identify more models. So far, the tool has been used more than a million times – and it’s only four months old.
Do you envision a physical location (permanent or pop-up) as part of the Chrono24 formula?
Looking back ten years ago, I never could have imagined that Chrono24 would be as big or as relevant as it is today. We acquired one of our retail partners about a year ago. We did this mainly to learn what life is like on the other side of the “screen,” so to speak. We also see the potential for other services. We have partnered with Fratello Watches, and we now sell limited editions through Fratello.
As of today, we are not looking for retail locations; instead, we count on our partners and look to help them sell online. That said, we are an agile business, so it’s hard to predict the future.
What are the strongest markets for Chrono24?
Historically, Germany was our strongest market, but this was obviously due to the fact that that is where Chrono24 started. Today, Chrono24 is a global entity, with the United States and Europe leading the way, followed by Asia, which is growing very fast. That being said, the United States is one of our top-three markets in many aspects, including sales and visits. We are very proud that we have around 900,000 unique visitors from the United States every month and that there are more than 120,000 American user accounts on Chrono24.
Does Chrono24 sell more new or used watches?
It’s about two-thirds pre-owned – or “pre-loved,” as we like to call it – and one-third new watches.
Is Chrono24 a tool to help dealers move aging inventory?
We work with close to 3,500 dealers worldwide and dedicate entire teams to these strong and important partners. While many of our partners have existing storefronts, Chrono24 is becoming a more relevant part of their business, and some of our partners actually sell exclusively through Chrono24. Most dealers offer all of their inventory on Chrono24, and not only aging pieces.
What trends do you see in the U.S.?
Overall, we see a polarization of price points. The very high end remains strong –especially among well-known and recognized brands like Rolex, Omega, and AP – while the lower end of luxury watches (let’s say under $1,000) is not as strong as it could be. Also, our American users mostly buy from sellers that are also based in the United States – more than sixty percent of all U.S. sales are domestic. Surely one of the reasons for this is the high number of American dealers on our marketplace.
Globally, it’s a different picture: Approximately seventy percent of sales on Chrono24 are made across international borders.
What about smartwatches on Chrono24?
Based on what we are seeing, smartwatches are acting like a gateway into more traditional mechanical watches. That said, not many people are searching for Apple watches on Chrono24. It seems our customers are searching for something special, and when they want to buy a smartwatch, they go elsewhere to do their research and make purchases.
How has buying a luxury watch online evolved over the last decade or so?
I remember before Chrono24 started I would spend hours and hours researching watches online and feeling like the platforms at the time made had more of a flea market atmosphere. You would have to search site after site and numerous retailers. If each site had a few hundred options, you might have to search for a long time to find the watch you really wanted to have.
You also needed to have a lot of confidence that the individual or company that you were buying from was legitimate. We are now in a situation where we can provide global transparency, a huge selection, and create a platform that makes for secure and comfortable purchases.
How safe is it to buy a watch from Chron24 with regard to authenticity?
Authenticity is our number one priority, as is the safety and security of the entire transaction from placing to order to when it’s on your wrist. First of all, our global sales team verifies and vets every dealer before we let them on the platform – and not everyone meets our high standards.
Second, we created Trusted Checkout, a free escrow service. Once you’ve found your dream watch on Chrono24 and have come to an agreement with the dealer, you transfer the amount due to an escrow account. We only release the funds to the seller once you have received the watch and are happy to keep it.
If there are issues, our multi-lingual support team is there to help buyers and sellers and guarantee a smooth transaction. Should conflicts arise, we even have a mediation team to guide buyers and sellers toward a mutually satisfactory solution. At this time, we don’t perform physical checks of the watches; instead, we offer a no-questions-asked return policy as part of Trusted Checkout to safeguard ultimate safety for the transaction.
Do you consider Chrono24 a disruptor in the industry?
This is our role: changing the industry, changing the way people purchase watches, especially pre-owned and vintage watches. Considering our global transparency, huge inventory, and market data paired with the low cost for the service of selling a watch, I would say we are creating a new and possibly disruptive platform for buying and selling watches. Several years ago, industry leaders wouldn’t even talk to us, but this has quickly changed as they have seen the service we provide – and probably also the passion for luxury watches we share.
Baselworld caught off-guard as key partners join together to jump ship.
Last week Baselworld sent a press release that described an untenable strategy with regard to existing exhibitors. Highlighting an unwarranted arrogance and a myopic perspective, the leadership of the fair stipulated that any exhibitors who stuck with Baselworld for the new dates in January 2021 must pay a premium of 15% to retain what they had already paid for. Alternatively, exhibitors could request a refund of (up to) 30% of what they had already paid.
If brands chose option B, the release states that 40% of the fees already paid to Basel could be applied to a future space at the 2021 event if the brand had a change of heart and wanted to come back. Either way, the message was clear – we’re keeping your money.
Based on this release I speculated as to what Baselworld would do if any of the remaining key partner brands (Rolex and Patek for example) might withdraw from the event. As the entire watch industry now knows, this came to a head this week with a cabal of brands led by Rolex and joined by Tudor, Chopard, and Chanel, has abandoned Baselworld to partner with the FHH in an as-yet unnamed show to run in concert and in the same location as the newly coined Watches and Wonders – previously known as the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH).
As of now we are not sure who else will join the new unnamed show, and how the various brands will choose between exhibiting at one or the other. You can read the entirety of the release here below which mentions an early April date for W&W and the “new” partner show, but I cannot find any confirmation of this time-frame anywhere else on the FHH site and have had no reply from their staff to confirm this time-frame.
Baselworld leadership is suspect of the quick action taken by these brands after the notification and offers Baselworld had put forth, and may believe that the brands were already planning to vacate en-masse. True or not, it was a time for change. As I’ve posited before, having a single event in either Geneva or Basel would make more sense for all involved.
Both the initial withdrawal press release and Baselworld’s response are here below:
Update: We’ve also added the April 17 letter from LVMH announcing its plans to depart Baselworld for a new show scheduled for April 2021 in Geneva.
FHH PRESS RELEASE:
ROLEX, PATEK PHILIPPE, CHANEL, CHOPARD AND TUDOR LEAVE BASELWORLD CREATION OF A NEW WATCH TRADE SHOW IN GENEVA IN COLLABORATION WITH THE FONDATION DE LA HAUTE HORLOGERIE
Geneva, 14 April 2020
– Rolex, Patek Philippe, Chanel, Chopard and Tudor leave Baselworld to create a new watch trade show in Geneva with the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie. The show will be held early April 2021 at Palexpo, at the same time as Watches & Wonders. This departure follows a number of unilateral decisions made without consultation by Baselworld management, including the postponement of the watch show until January 2021, as well as its inability to meet the brands’ needs and expectations. The new show, which will be linked to Watches & Wonders, organized by the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie, is to take place at Palexpo. The aim is to offer partner brands the best possible professional platform, applying a shared vision to successfully meet future challenges in the watchmaking industry. It will also give crucial prominence to the sector’s expertise and innovations, both in Switzerland and internationally. Other brands may also be added, according to terms that have not yet been defined. This new event will be geared predominantly towards retailers, the press and VIP customers.
Jean-Frédéric Dufour, Chief Executive Officer, Rolex SA, and Board Member, Montres Tudor SA, said: “We have taken part in Baselworld since 1939. Unfortunately, given the way the event has evolved and the recent decisions made by MCH Group, and in spite of the great attachment we had to this watch show, we have decided to withdraw. Following discussions initiated by Rolex, it seemed only natural to create a new event with partners that share our vision and our endless, unwavering support for the Swiss watchmaking sector. This will allow us to present our new watches in line with our needs and expectations, to join forces and better defend the interests of the industry.”
Thierry Stern, President, Patek Philippe said: “The decision to leave Baselworld was not an easy one to take for me, being the fourth generation of the Stern family to participate to this traditional yearly event. But life evolves constantly, things change and people change as well, whether it is at the level of those responsible for the watch fair organization, the brands or the clients. We constantly have to adapt ourselves, question what we do, since what was right yesterday may not necessarily be valid today! Today Patek Philippe is not in line with Baselworld’s vision anymore, there have been too many discussions and unsolved problems, trust is no longer present. We need to answer the legitimate needs of our retailers, the clients and the press from around the world. They have to be able to discover the new models from Swiss watchmakers each year, at one time, in one place, and this in the most professional manner possible. That is why, following several discussions with Rolex and in agreement with other participating brands, we have decided to create, all together, a unique event in Geneva, representative of our savoir-faire.“
Frédéric Grangié, President of Chanel Watches & Fine Jewellery said: “Like its partners, CHANEL shares the same independence and the same desire to protect and promote the values, know-how, utmost quality and precision of Swiss Watchmaking. This initiative marks a key milestone in the history of CHANEL Watchmaking and is part of a long-term strategy, which began with the launch of this activity in 1987. This exhibition will allow us to present all of our new creations in an environment that meets our high-quality standards.”
Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, Co-President Chopard et Cie SA said: “Chopard first exhibited at the Basel fair in 1964 with a stand of some 25 square metres. After careful consideration, our family decided to support the Rolex initiative and retire from Baselworld – a painful decision. The creation of this new watch show in Geneva, in parallel to Watches & Wonders, will allow us to better serve our watchmaking partners and our customers. Through the alliance, these grandes maisons will also be able to collaborate in promoting the values and best interests of Swiss watchmaking.”
Jérôme Lambert, on behalf of the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie Council said: “The Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie is delighted to welcome a new salon which will strengthen the historical Watches & Wonders event in Geneva next year in early April.” Further information will be published at a later date, in particular concerning the name of the new watch fair and its organization.
Baselworld Press Release:
MCH GROUP IS SURPRISED AT THE STATEMENTS MADE REGARDING THE BASELWORLD CANCELLATIONS
Basel, Switzerland, April 14, 2020
It is with great surprise and equally great regret that the MCH Group takes note of the cancellation of major exhibitors at Baselworld. The new date for the unavoidable postponement of Baselworld 2020 was defined jointly with leading exhibitors. The objective was to find the earliest and best possible date for the industry following the Covid-19 related measures.
The companies now “migrating” – including Rolex – spoke out in favor of a postponement to January 2021. They are also represented on the Exhibitors’ Committee, where the future vision of Baselworld has been discussed on several occasions and has met with a positive response, as was also evidenced by countless individual discussions. The intention to move to Geneva has never been mentioned. The MCH Group must therefore conclude that the relevant plans have been in preparation for some time and that the discussions concerning the financial arrangements for the cancellation of Baselworld 2020 are now being put forward as an argument. On the basis of the positive and supportive feedback received from exhibitors, especially the small and medium-sized exhibitors from the watch, jewellery, gemstone and supplier industries, the MCH Group decided last year to invest substantial sums in the further development of Baselworld and in the establishment of additional digital platforms. The MCH Group is convinced that, in addition to a physical platform, a connection with the community must be maintained throughout the year. More than ever before, it sees an opportunity to develop a modern platform in the watch and jewellery industry for brands that do not rely primarily on tradition, but above all on innovation. In the next few weeks, the MCH Group will be making a decision on the continuation of Baselworld and on investments in its further development, which is geared to the long term.
April 17 letter from the LVMH Group:
The Swiss watch Manufactures belonging to the LVMH Group, the world leader in luxury, have in turn decided to leave Baselworld in order to join the other flagship brands of the Swiss watch industry in Geneva from 2021 onwards.
April 17th 2020 – The Swiss watch Manufactures of the LVMH Group, including the LVMH Watchmaking Division (TAG Heuer, Hublot and Zenith) and the House of Bvlgari, have taken note of the departure of Rolex, Tudor, Patek Philippe, Chanel and Chopard from the Baselworld show scheduled for January 2021. Within this context of clearly weakened representation of the Swiss watch industry and hence inevitably lower participation, it appears clear to the brands composing the Division and to the House of Bvlgari that they must also withdraw in order to preserve their image and their relations with their clients as well with the media. They will therefore not be taking part in the 2021 edition of Baselworld.
The four Maisons are examining various potential event formats corresponding to the need to present their strategic directions and new products to their commercial partners – as well as to the international press – next year. The LVMH Watchmaking Division on the one hand, and Bvlgari on the other, will decide on their plans in the coming weeks, according to their respective objectives.
“We are sorry to have to leave this over hundred-year Baselworld event to which our Maisons have been consistently loyal. It is nonetheless clear that we must respond quickly and make other arrangements. We are facing an opportunity to reinvent the format and content of one of the key moments of our watchmaking year, which represented both a major commercial challenge and a lever of influence for our brands. With this in mind, we will do our utmost to be present alongside the other prestigious Maisons that will gather in Geneva in April 2021, and thereby meet the requirements of our partners and clients while offering them an unrivalled experience.”
Stéphane Bianchi, CEO Watchmaking Division LVMH
“Grouping the entire Swiss watch industry in a single location, Geneva – the historical capital of watchmaking – and around a single date, is a major opportunity to at last revive a sector that all too many divisions and divergent interests have weakened compared to the rest of the luxury sector in which Bvlgari is active and that is making much faster progress. We are looking forward to going to Geneva in April 2021, even though we still need to define the terms of our participation, which we will specify in the coming weeks. We are also delighted not to have to make up for the lack of institutional watch shows, which in 2020 forced us to take tactical initiatives that were necessary in the short term but undesirable in the medium term.”
First of all I do want to say that I am an absolute fan of the Baselworld fair and have benefited from my attendance in one way or another since my first fair in 1991. During both boom and bust years I always found it an invaluable event to discover new ideas and designs as well as re-connect with industry contacts.
Having said that I will also point out that at my very first World Watch Clock & Jewelry Show in Basel (not distilled into “Baselworld” at that time) a friendly Canadian watch distributor named John Keeping gave me a piece of advice that rings truer today than ever. He said, “Gary this is your first Basel Fair, so what I’m about to say may not make sense right now, but you will come to understand it if you continue in the wristwatch industry.” He said; “no money, no Swiss”.
Although not quite perfect English, John’s salient bon mot has proven over the years to be more a truism than I could have ever imagined at that early stage of my watching career.
While accurate on a brand and manufacturing level, Baselworld’s recent offer to PAID exhibitors for the cancelled 2020 event reaffirms why so many industry veterans make reference to the unmitigated gall and Swiss arrogance within the watch industry. Read below an excerpt from the recent Baselworld press release and ponder how you might react with your own money on the line.
From Baselworld press release dated April 3rd 2020:
“In this challenging environment, Baselworld is very conscious of the stakes for all exhibitors and is absorbing a significant portion of costs due to postponing the show by offering to carry forward 85% of the fees for Baselworld 2020 to Baselworld 2021 (the remaining 15% will serve to partially offset out-of-pocket costs already accrued). If needed, exhibitors can alternatively request a cash refund which will be of up to 30% of the fees, with 40% carried forward to Baselworld 2021.”
Now if this was offered up on April 1st I would have immediately called April Fool’s, but in this case the only fools were those brands that thought that Baselworld was going to evolve into a more welcoming event. Basically stick with us and we’ll stick it to you, or don’t stick with us and we’ll stick it to you worse.
Understanding the caveats of force majeure (and who could have predicted 2020’s turn of events?) have to be considered, and to be fair, Baselworld does have a staff of year-round employees that need to be paid, but this offer is really a slap in the face to their clients – at a time when the image and future of the fair was already under duress.
At this stage it may have been better to take the lumps now and work with the local canton and Swiss government for some kind of relief. The above “offer” will certainly alienate the existing brands and may be cause for pause to others that were on the fence and thinking of coming back to the annual event.
Adding insult to injury is the fact that major hotels, including some of the most expensive in Basel, are denying refunds and generally treating their upscale clientele to a shit sandwich. That, after charging exorbitant fees 3-5 times the usual rate, insisting on seven-night commitments, and demanding dinners and events be held on premises to bulk up the payola for the one week of the Baselworld Fair.
As a thirty-year veteran of the evolving halls of Basel’s watch & jewelry fair I appreciate the density of product and personnel that Basel embodies. It creates a target-rich environment for both editorial and marketing like no other event. That said, it needs to evolve; director Melikof has announced new digital activations embracing and developing the potential and reach in the digital age, but without the brands there is no show.
What will Basel become if Rolex, Patek Philippe – or both – withdraw? Having already lost the Swatch Group, Breitling, Bulgari, Gucci, and others, the management is on thin ice. Treating their existing exhibitors like this does not help.
Maybe moving the show to January will give it the chill it needs to make it safe to skate…..