After more than a year of speculation, it’s finally happened—Swatch Group, one of the most significant institutions of Swiss watchmaking, has pulled out of Baselworld. According to Swiss daily NZZ am Sonntag, Nick Hayek Jr. has stated, “Swatch Group has decided to no longer be present in Baselworld from 2019.” This, of course, continues the exodus of more the 600 exhibitors we saw last year. Having personally attended Baselworld four times now, it will be undoubtedly strange to enter Hall 1 and not see the red glow of the massive Omega logo towering over a long stretch of the exhibition center.
And yet, despite the deep significance of this news for the industry at large, it doesn’t comes as a surprise. It was only a matter of time.
Ironically, the watch industry, like a watch in need of a long-overdue service, tends to lag painfully behind. We still hear from some people within the watchmaking world who question the significance of the Internet—yes, in 2018—and I’m sure that’ll boggle the mind of any business owner—nay, any person really—reading this.
But we’ve also seen signs of evolution, with more industry mainstays eagerly embracing all the things the World Wide Web can offer. From Omega’s two-time collaboration with Fratello Watches to large Swiss firms sponsoring podcasts, I think it’s safe to say the times they are a changin’.