Swatch Group to host retailers in March; Geneva and Basel to move to consecutive weeks

ZURICH, Dec 18 (Reuters) - Swatch Group will host an event for watch retailers from March 19 to 26 next year, just ahead of the Baselworld watch fair it recently dropped out of, according to an invitation seen by Reuters on Tuesday.

Switzerland’s two big watch trade shows, the SIHH in Geneva and Baselworld in Basel, have been looking to reinvent themselves to try to stop exhibitors from taking contacts with retailers, journalists and customers into their own hands.

The SIHH, dominated by Richemont brands and traditionally held in January, and rival show Baselworld, usually scheduled in March, said on Tuesday they would switch to consecutive weeks from 2020 onwards, a change demanded by industry heavyweights like Patek Philippe.

Swatch Group, which announced its exit from Baselworld earlier this year, sent an invitation featuring the words “Time to Move”, the March 2019 dates, a drawing depicting the city of Zurich and the names of Swatch Group’s more expensive brands Breguet, Harry Winston, Blancpain, Jaquet Droz, Glashuette Original and Omega.

The retailer that forwarded the invitation to Reuters confirmed the event was to be held in Zurich, but did not have more information.

Swatch Group could not immediately be reached for comment.

The SIHH will be held in Geneva from April 26-29 in 2020, followed by Baselworld from April 30 to May 5, the organisers of the two shows said in a joint statement. (Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz; Editing by Mark Potter)