The organiser of Geneva's international expo of fine watches said Thursday it had decided to cancel the April event because of the spread of the new coronavirus.

"In view of the latest developments concerning the worldwide spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus... the decision has been taken to cancel the upcoming edition of Watches and Wonders Geneva" said the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie.

The Geneva event is a major trade show for the luxury watch industry and is particularly important for the many Switzerland-based makers of fine timepieces.

China and the Asian region have become increasingly important in recent years for watchmakers as they have for other luxury goods manufacturers. China is at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak, and international airlines have scaled back flights to the region and many firms are cutting back travel by their employees.

Other large international business gatherings, such as Europe's top mobile phone trade show in Barcelona, have been cancelled amid the outbreak, which has now killed over 2,700 people and infected some 78,000.

The Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie said "in order to protect the health and wellbeing of all our guests, press, partners and teams" it had decided that it should cancel the event, due to have taken place in Geneva from April 25-29.

The event is a major trade show for the luxury watch industry and is particularly important for the many Switzerland-based makers of fine timepieces, particularly Richemont brands like Cartier, Piaget and Jaeger-LeCoultre.

The event, which is typically held in January, had already been postponed this year to coincide with Baselworld, another massive watch fair held in the northern Swiss city of Basel in April.

The organisers of the Basel event told AFP they were "evaluating the situation in extremely close coordination with Swiss federal and regional authorities."

Earlier this month, Swatch Group cancelled a watch fair dedicated to its brands that was to have been held in Zurich. China and the Asian region have become increasingly important for watchmakers, as they have for other luxury goods manufacturers.

China is the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, and international airlines have scaled back flights to the region and many firms are cutting back travel by their employees.

Other large international business gatherings, such as Europe's top mobile phone trade show in Barcelona, have also been cancelled owing to the outbreak.(AFP)

 

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