“We could do Baselworld in Dubai,” says Jean-Claude Biver, the Swiss watchmaking industry veteran now in retirement from his role heading watchmaking at LVMH.
He was speaking at a packed forum at Dubai Watch Week, an event organized by Ahmed Seddiqi and Sons, the largest multibrand luxury watch retailer in the Middle East.
Asked by a delegate what Baselworld and Watches & Wonders Geneva (the renamed SIHH event) could learn from Dubai Watch Week, Mr Biver replied: “Dubai is teaching us how to do a fair; what should be the atmosphere of a fair. Spending time together is more important than selling watches. When I come here people are smiling with their eyes. This means the soul is happy. I wish every fair would give us this smile, so thank you to Seddiqi.”
Moving the major watch fairs around the world to cities like Dubai is not a new idea, in fact it is a suggestion put by WatchPro to the management of Baselworld two years’ ago.
Having it suggested by Mr Biver is of far greater significance. Although he is no longer part of the day-to-day operations at LVMH, his opinion will land at Hublot, Zenith, Bulgari and Zenith, which are collectively the biggest exhibitors at Baselworld.
Michel Loris-Melikoff, managing director of Baselworld, was in the forum to hear Mr Biver blast the decision to hold the two major Swiss shows back-to-back at the end of April through to the beginning of May next year, a situation that will improve in 2021 when it will be around three weeks earlier.
“Do not concentrate on selling at fairs. Especially next year when the dates are stupid, you cannot concentrate on selling,” he said.
Commendably, Mr Loris-Melikoff, he did not duck the challenge and found Mr Biver for a brief chat at the end of the discussion (below).