Earlier this week on my column on Forbes.com, I posted that, beginning April 25 — the day that would have been the opening day of Watches & Wonders Geneva 2020 — the Federation de la Haute Horlogerie (the organizers of the show) will go live with a digital platform for the brands to showcase their watches, their watchmaking culture, and more.
“Visitors to watchesandwonders.com will find approximately 30 brands — those that had planned to exhibit at the Geneva event until it was canceled due to COVID-19— showcased. Brands have the ability to put new products online, display information about their brand and their watchmaking universe, and add product throughout the ensuing days. According to a statement issued by the FHH, there will also be customized content, educational experiences and more to satiate the appetites of watch collectors, journalists, bloggers and retailers.”
“The platform is designed as a virtual meeting place and will last beyond just the previously designated show dates. Going live on Saturday, April 25th, watchesandwonders.com will roll out in phases. The first phase will offer dedicated pages for each of the “exhibiting” brands. There, they can opt to showcase new product if it is ready, or just showcase their watchmaking savoir-faire.”
“Unfortunately, due to the closure of Swiss watch manufactures – including the makers of watch screws, pinions, gears and other parts – many brands were unable to garner the parts necessary to build their watches. Even those who are vertically integrated were forced to stop production as factories across Europe shuttered their doors due to COVID-19. The Geneva watch shows were put on hold, including some smaller adjunct shows (Geneva Days) that had been planned by a few brands as a supplement to the stalled Watches & Wonders Geneva.”
“Some brands will introduce their newest watches via 10-minute streaming videos on the opening day, with those videos then permanently residing on the site. The FHH is also working with brands to create ongoing educational content, trend forecasts, in-depth reviews of design, technology and craftsmanship, and more. There may even be some panel discussions or live interviews. By summertime the FHH hopes to add a second phase to the platform, with additional product rollouts and perhaps even some strategic e-commerce relationships. Thereafter, the site will continually evolve and remain a staple in the watchmaking industry. Plans are to implement a real-life exhibition in April of 2021 if the virus is held at bay by then. It remains to be seen if other global shows that had to cancel this year will also turn to a digital online exhibition.”