Switzerland’s largest trade fair celebrates its 20th anniversary with a promising edition

In September 2021, EPHJ was the first salon to reopen in Switzerland after the health crisis. A daring bet hailed by the high-precision players present and by visitors whose quality and qualification were recognized by 98% of exhibitors according to the satisfaction survey conducted at the end of this 2021 edition.

Only 8 months after the last edition, the 20th edition of the EPHJ looks promising again. The number of exhibiting companies increased by 26% compared to September 2021 to reach 700 exhibitors to date.

The easing of international travel is confirmed with 15 countries represented among the exhibitors, including the United States, and a trend in the first return of foreign visitors is expected.

The majority of exhibitors remain Swiss with 22 cantons represented according to the following classification of the five largest: Neuchâtel (24.6% of the Swiss contingent), Bern (19.9%), Jura (14.9%), Geneva (11, 4%) and Vaudois (10.6%).

Of this Swiss contingent, French-speaking Switzerland represents 64% of exhibitors and 36% for the German and Ticino parts.

Twenty years after its beginnings in 2002 with 92 exhibitors in Lausanne, a quarter of whom were present without interruption, the EPHJ has had an average of more than 800 exhibitors and 20,000 Swiss and international visitors from five continents over the past six years.

This growth is based on five main principles:

  • equal treatment of exhibitors with identical basic modules for stands
  • commercial development: 90% of exhibitors say they have signed orders during the show or have orders in progress.
  • highlighting innovations
  • the convivial spirit: all the actors are happy to meet, including the exhibitors who conclude business with each other
  • stand prices stable for 20 years

Twenty years later, the heart of this 20th edition remains the professional environment of watchmaking and jewelry, upstream and downstream of the finished product.

Nevertheless, the trend towards diversification of medtech is increasingly felt by exhibitors, almost half of whom announce a diversification in this sector thanks to their mastery of very high-precision techniques in a secure environment.

The professional environment of micro-technologies also remains a strong sector of the show with many companies, from start-ups to multinationals, presenting their latest machines or truly innovative processes.

One of the major concerns of the high precision market is the difficulty of recruiting in an increasingly tight market where recruitment times are getting longer.

Following a survey of exhibitors, it turns out that almost a third of them currently have vacancies and are recruiting. This is a sign of the sector’s vitality but also a real constraint in attracting young people to technical and industrial professions.

The EPHJ has therefore decided to devote the last day of the show to this theme in partnership with JobWatch, which will mobilize its large network of candidates around these job offers in order to organize a Job Dating session on 17 June.

Candidates, future graduates or future apprentices will therefore have the opportunity to meet business leaders during this day, which should be useful for growing businesses.

Six years after the first survey, EPHJ once again questioned young Swiss, via a national survey of 16-25 year olds, to find out more about their aspirations, their relationships, their consumption and their perception of watches and their world.

The results show an interesting and stimulating evolution of mores and habits in this area, with a change in their preferred brand. The full results will be unveiled on the first day of the show in the presence of watchmaking experts who will discuss them.

Other highlights include the famous Round Tables, which will deal with hot topics in the industry every day, such as the need for more clarity in the jungle of certifications and other ESG/CSR labels, innovation opportunities for the high precision, the current trend for the Swiss watch industry to develop mainly towards the high end, medtech prototyping and the shortage of industrial manpower.

As usual, the Exhibitors’ Grand Prize will reward the best innovation of the year voted by its peers among all the technological advances that will be presented this year.

The winners of the Watch Medtech Challenge will also be announced to highlight the links between watchmaking and medical technologies.

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