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LVMH says Baselworld is outrageously expensive as it opens its own Watch Week

LVMH Watch Week 2020-Ricardo Guadalupe, Stephane Bianchi, Jean-Christophe Babin, Julien Tornare (2)

If this year’s Baselworld is the last for LVMH then the show’s organisers will nave nobody but themselves to blame, Jean-Christophe Babin, CEO of Bulgari suggested to a global gathering of press and retailers in Dubai today.

LVMH Watch Week looks certain to become a brand in its own right, similar to the Breitling Summits, and will take place at prestigious locations around the world.

The very first Watch Week kicked off in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, today, despite regional tensions centred on Iran causing the likes of Hodinkee to withdraw from attending the event.

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It is being held at the Bulgari Hotel, which hopefully gave mates rates to its owner, with a select group of journalists flown in at LVMH’s expense for two days of interviews, product presentations and lavish hospitality.

Retailers from around the world are also arriving for the same treatment later in the week.

Despite the fact that there has clearly been no expense spared, Mr Babin said the group was making a significant saving compared to exhibiting at Baselworld.

“It is much cheaper,” he said in his opening address to the press. “[Trade] fair‏s are outrageously expensive.”

He stopped short of saying that all LVMH brands would be pulling out of Baselworld, but the obvious excitement he expressed as he stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the CEOs of all the group’s watch brands was palpable.

Stéphane Bianchi, head of LVMH watchmaking and CEO of TAG Heuer, Ricardo Guadalupe, CEO of Hublot, Julien Tornare, CEO of Zenith, and Antoine Pin, head of Bulgari watchmaking, joined Mr Babin on stage.

Hosting in January, the desired month for the first watch launches of the year, was described as an important strategic choice.

Holding the opening ceremony on the lush lawns of the ultra-luxury Bulgari Hotel clearly gave him equal pleasure and he hinted that future Watch Weeks would take place at the company’s other properties around the world.

There are Bulgari Hotels in Milan, London, Bali, Beijing and Shanghai. The next opening will be in Paris, making it a hot favourite to host the Watch Week in 2021.

“Will this be the first of many? We will have to learn and assess the relevance of this new format. I am pretty convinced myself,” said Mr Babin.

Will LVMH leave Baselworld? he was asked. “We will decide after Baselworld in May,” he replied.

 

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Rob Corder

The author Rob Corder