Watches & Wonders Reimagines the Trade Show

The Geneva event moved online for 2020 and is preparing for a busy 2021.

The watch industry’s two biggest trade fairs, which have helped shape the public image of the business for generations, had vowed to do things differently in 2020.

Then the coronavirus came along.

Now Watches & Wonders Geneva, the renamed version of the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie, had to change their format to on-line on April, 2020.

The new website functioned as a portal into the fine-watchmaking universe, with information from Watches & Wonders’ 30 participating brands. Ms. Lupo described it as “a playlist, mainly made up of videos where you can pick and choose what you’re interested in.”

Seventeen of the brands — including Cartier, Hermès, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Panerai and Vacheron Constantin — posted new collections to the site that were in production long before the pandemic began.

Panerai, for example, has declared 2020 “The Year of Luminor.” The model, created in 1950 for members of the Italian Navy’s elite frogmen, is recognizable from a distance thanks to the signature oversize bridge that protects its crown. To introduce new Luminor variations on Watchesandwonders.com, Panerai created a four-minute presentation that takes visitors through “an underwater fantasy world,” its chief executive, Jean-Marc Pontroué, said.

The brand had little time to get the video ready, but Mr. Pontroué said the process was “much less tiring” than preparing for the physical event. “We don’t have the tension and stress of opening the door at Watches & Wonders at 9 a.m., when you have this avalanche of people arriving,” he said. If all goes according to plan, the rush of visitors will materialize next April, when the fair opens at the Palexpo convention center and locations throughout Geneva. (Dates have not been announced.)

In collaboration with exhibitors, members of its Cultural Council and other opinion leaders, the FHH (Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie) began working on a wide range of content and educational, including product analysis, trend forecasting, technological innovation and giving voice to the industry and the experts. For the last months of this year, the platform will have more and more presentations of new products, as well as initiatives on e-commerce, the brand works hard to stay ahead.

If all goes according to plan, the rush of visitors will materialize next April, when the fair opens at the Palexpo convention center and locations throughout Geneva. (Dates have not been announced.)

“To reinvent yourself and offer a digital alternative” -This is the solution to a complicated situation that has been presented to the world, but which also presents itself as an opportunity for change and improvement.

watchesandwonders.com