Half of all the new watches launched by Hublot at the LVMH Watch Week will hit retail before we even get to Baselworld, the company’s chief executive Ricardo Guadalupe told WatchPro today.
Fifty percent of all Hublot’s 2020 novelties are being unveiled at this week’s event, underscoring the difficulties facing brands like Rolex, which have committed to unveiling their 2020 collections in Basel at the end of April.
Zenith also introduced 20 watches today that the company aims to start delivering to retailers in April. An additional 35 new references will be shown for the first time in Basel.
January has been an important month for LVMH watch brands in recent years, with the group holding launch events in the same week as SIHH — now renamed Watches and Wonders Geneva.
Those watches tended to start appearing in the second quarter in previous years.
The difference this year is that Baselworld and Watches and Wonders run back-to-back at the end of April, so Richemont’s watch brands and the likes of Rolex, Tudor and Patek Philippe will announce nothing until deep in the second quarter.
Swatch Group’s luxury watch brands, Omega and upwards, are expected to show their first watches of 2020 at their own event in Zurich in March.
There is no news yet about where Swatch Group’s volume watch brands — the likes of Tissot, Longines, Certina and Rado — will hold their launches, but they are likely to hold smaller events in each major territory around the same time.
Newness is not everything in the watch world. Mr Guadalupe said today that fresh models typically make up around 15% of annual sales. However, he added: “Novelties are important. Our consumers want innovation.”
All LVMH watch brands will exhibit at Baselworld this year in their usual positions and with the same stand constructions as last year, but Jean-Christophe Babin, CEO of Bulgari, which is effectively hosting the LVMH event at the Bulgari Hotel in Dubai, says future participation will be reviewed in May, after the exhibition.
A glimmer of hope for Baselworld is that Mr Guadalupe believes the Swiss watch industry would be poorer without a global show.
“We need one big event that gathers the whole industry together. That would be ideal,” he says, but stressed this is only his personal opinion, not the official LVMH line.