Although a colleague recently told me that the increasing number of regional watch shows are a financial drain on small-to-medium brands – exhibiting at either BaselWorld or SIHH alone costs serious money – there’s no denying the value of such events. They’re the best way of reaching watch lovers, because there is no salesman hovering and inflicting pressure upon the visitors.
Regional shows allow watch lovers not employed in the watch industry to see what’s new first-hand. SIHH in Geneva is invitation-only, almost exclusively trade and press, run for the Richemont brands, including Cartier, Piaget and IWC. Three or four “friends” of Richemont also exhibit, such as Richard Mille and Parmigiani Fleurier, but other than that, the event is uniquely exclusive. BaselWorld, open to the public, necessitates a trip to Switzerland – scant comfort if you live in Salt Lake City.
London recently hosted SalonQP 2013, which has evolved into one of the most important events in the global watch calendar despite its mainly regional appeal. With around 70 exhibitors in its catalogue, SalonQP is now prestigious enough to warrant the world debuts of new models. This year, it boasted among its debutantes such new brands, or new-ish brands’ first UK appearances, as Pinion, Meridian, Peter Roberts, Habring2, Konstantin Chaykin, ArkriviA and Kudoke.
For established specialist brands, even though the majority are present at either SIHH or BaselWorld, SalonQP provided a perfect occasion midway in the annual calendar to release interim launches. Maîtres du Temps, for example showed a new version of Chapter Three Reveal while Bremont exhibited the Codebreaker. It is also a perfect venue for re-entering the UK market, with Eterna, Girard-Perregaux and JeanRichard welcomed back to London in style.
What also demonstrates SalonQP’s ascendancy is the continued presence of massive brands who already advertise enough and have strong enough presence not to need the promotion. Be that as it may, Vacheron Constantin, Piaget, TAG Heuer, Zenith, Jaeger-LeCoultre and others of that calibre all savour the one-to-one meetings with clients and potential clients, away from the pressures of a retail environment.
Although there may be a limit to the number of brands that the Saatchi Gallery can house – and there is no doubt that the success of this year’s event will attract more brands in 2014 – it is at present an ideal venue for watch connoisseurs. All white inside, it is bright and welcoming, the stands are hospitable, and the salon is operated in such a way that there is crowd control in the form of two sessions per day. That, though, doesn’t apply to the welcoming party the night before – it has to be THE social event for the British watch scene.
As a picture is worth a thousand words, here are but a few of the delights that were on display,
and some of the people who created them: