The Timex Group Swiss Luxury Division—which manages the watch business for luxury fashion brands Salvatore Ferragamo, Versace, Versus and Nautilus through licensing agreements—is the latest company to leave the Baselworld watch and jewelry show.


Paolo Marai, president and CEO of the division of the Timex Group, in an exclusive interview, said the $3 million investment into the show could be better spent in other areas of its global business. The four brands occupied Hall 1.1, the second floor of the hall dedicated to “global” watch and jewelry brands.


“I think that Baselworld is a huge investment for everybody and is in my opinion losing some effectiveness,” he said. “It used to be very important in different levels. First, it was a good opportunity to meet journalists but they’re coming less and less to Baselworld. And even those who come are reducing the time they are staying—running from one appointment to the next.”


He continued, “Second, in the past we used to meet a lot of retailers. This year not one single country sent retailers. So what you meet in Baselworld are distributors. But we know the distributors. I don’t need to go to Baselworld for that.”


Marai says the changing luxury business demands that luxury brands, particularly fashion brands, need to be closer to the consumer. He argues Baselworld, based in Basel, Switzerland, isn’t an efficient way to do this.


“Baselworld is becoming more of a place to show off. I’m there because I want to show that I’m at Basel rather than doing something that is really effective toward the end consumer,” said Marai, a native of Milan who now lives in Lugano, Switzerland, where the Timex Group Swiss Luxury Division is located. “We need to move the needle and be close to the end consumer…. I can put in the same amount of money to be closer to the end consumer and be more effective…. It is a cost I do not believe we can afford anymore.


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