WatchPro was in Geneva this week, and all anybody is talking about is whether Baselworld and Watches & Wonder Geneva will go ahead.
The impact of the Coronavirus outbreak is everywhere. Hotel room rates are half what would be expected at this time of year — I got a room at Hôtel Longemalle, bang opposite Bucherer’s flagship boutique in the centre of the city, for under $250.
Parades of luxury boutiques from Prada to Louis Vuitton are like a ghost town.
I dropped into Bucherer for a look at its new certified pre-owned watch floor and the entire four-storey emporium was all-but deserted (it was a mid-week morning). I saw more hand sanitizer dispensers than I did Chinese shoppers.
Baselworld’s management will be well aware that everybody is speculating about the impact of Coronavirus, so have taken the unusual step of issuing a statement insisting that the show will open as scheduled from April 30 to May 5.
“Baselworld 2020 is on track; we are planning the coming show as intended,” says Baselworld managing director Michel Loris-Melikoff, Managing Director of Baselworld.
“Based on the comprehensive information our monitoring team has collected to-date, we have no reason to doubt it at all,“ he adds.
Both the number of confirmed cases and the number of deaths continues to rise, but the number of new confirmed cases per day has stabilized or fallen slightly in recent days.
Mr Loris-Melikoff is watching the data closely, and taking advice from health officials in Switzerland. “We are very closely monitoring the evolution of the Covid-19 situation and are in close contact with the respective health and other authorities. In coordination with the most important stakeholders of our industries, we are respecting all official procedures and recommendations to ensure the safety of the exhibitors, visitors and staff. A comprehensive health action plan has been drawn up for rapid deployment if necessary,” he says.