Patek Philippe president: “Baselworld needs to be aligned with SIHH”

Patek Philippe’s president Thierry Stern has called on the organizers of global watch exhibitions, Baselworld and SIHH, to work together to align the dates of their respective shows.

Baselworld is traditionally held towards the end of March, while Geneva-based SIHH takes place early in January.

Baselworld is currently facing mounting pressure on the back of high profile companies like Swatch Group, Raymond Weil and Maurice Lacroix withdrawing from its 2019 exhibition, but Stern still believes that the show can play a key role in the future.

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In a wide-ranging interview with Reuters yesterday, he insisted that the show is still an important platform for Patek Philippe to meet retailers and journalists, “but the dates need to be aligned with the Geneva watch fair [SIHH], that is key to the show’s future success.”

With Stern’s word always carrying significant clout in the watch industry, and on the back of withdrawals from SIHH in the form of Richard Mille and Audemars Piguet, there will be increasing pressure on both exhibitions’ management teams to bang heads together and find a solution that benefits both themselves and also the wider watch world.

Stern also spoke positively about its global business in light of data from the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry that showed Swiss watch exports being down year-on-year for the month of September, which is the first monthly fall since April 2017.

He specifically quashed concerns about a slowdown in China at the luxury end of the market, saying: “domestic Chinese demand is rising steadily, we sell more watches every month.”

Finally, there was good news for Patek Philippe’s retail partners, as Stern said that it has no plans to follow the increasingly popular model among watch brands of ditching retailers in favour of mono-brand boutiques and direct ecommerce.

“Our expertise is in producing watches, we do not have the ambition to control our entire distribution worldwide,” he said, adding that it was too much of a risk to have too many proprietary stores or to take the whole distribution process in-house.

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