Well its the the start of a very busy week in the world of watch making in Geneva and the first event is the innaugrual Geneva Time Exhibition. A new event aimed at bringing together a range of independent watchmakers and providing them with an appropriate forum to exhibit their unique pieces, the GTE provides the perfect setting for small manufactuers to make themselves heard. The importance of this event should not be underestimated as if you are a small business, setting up your own exhibit and attracting visitors during the frenetic pace of SIHH week can be very expensive and carries a high risk of disappointment resulting from little return on what is for many, a substantial investment.
Though not a huge exhibition the range was impressive, the booths were laid out very nicely and there was somewhere to sit as well, a small and very welcome luxury which is not always available. However, the best aspect was the rather nice relaxed atmosphere; although, like any show, the point is to sell you a watch, the independant watchmaker tends to be a very passionate and driven individual and more than willing
to tell you all about their products.
The most exciting thing about the show is the chance to see and touch some watches you may only have ever heard about. This can often be the case with the smaller makers because they have fewer distribution points and may not even be distributed in your country.
There were a lot of brands on offer, but I have selected two I think were the most interesting:
Cornelius & Cie
Having heard about the engraving work of Kees Englebarts and seen some examples of his work it was a great pleasure to meet him and see some of his creations. In plain terms Kees is perhaps the most talented watch engraver working in Switzerland today and the quality of the work on his own timepieces is incredible. Unusually his watches are not based on a Valjoux or ETA movement but rather an A. Schild AS 690 from 1935. Each movement is disassembled, engraved and either gold or rhodium plated prior to reassembly.
The first range of models is the Chronosome 46XY for men (pictured above) and the 46XX for women. The 460XY case is a chunky 49mm with a height of 16.3mm, there’s no way around it, it’s a big watch. Quite heavy too especially with the red gold case, but that’s what I want out of what is a serious timepiece. The standout feature of the watch, quite literally, is the asymetric case; the mainspring barrel is offset and makes the case bulge at the 5 o’clock position.
This will become the signature of the brand across the whole of the range and while a little odd at first grows on you quite quickly. But it is the quality of the engraving and finishing that really sets these watches
apart, they have a wonderful solid feel.
The range has primarily skeleton dials, with numbers around the edge, giving a clear view through to the movement, but if you would like to see the movement you only need to turn the watch over to see through the very large sapphire glass back. Now I’m not a huge fan of skeleton watches, the dials can often be difficult to read, but luckily Cornelius & Cie also makes a half skeleton version which has a very classic look. If you are looking for something a little different with superb build quality, and a real wow factor Kees Englebarts might just have what you need.
On a completly different tack is Rebellion Watches; their very contemporary, large rectangular cases are bold and not for the shrinking violet. This is another big watch, 46mm by 56.7mm, I mean big, and deep too at 19.6mm, you certainly get your monies worth here. The cases available are red gold or various coloured stainless steels and the design is all compound curves and bevelled edges, lots of details everywhere.
The range has a regulator, a chronograph and a tourbillon so everybody should be catered for, but my favourite is definetely the new Predator designed in co-operation with Eric Giroud (unfortunately images are not yet available on their website). Rather than the retangular cases of the main series, this is a much more standard round format, but it is the balance between the diameter, the depth the dial layout that makes this a compelling watch.
The dial of the chronograph version is in 5 layers, the base one of which is a honeycomb giving a view through to the movement, with sectorial seconds at the 9 o’clock position unually with two hands a short one for 0 to 30 seconds and a longer one for 30 to 60 seconds, and a date aperture at the 4:30 mark.
Again every taste can be accommodated with a time only version and a mono-pusher chronograph also available, and case materials of red gold, red gold/ceramic, steel, steel/ceramic and red gold/steel the number of different versions is considerable, if you buy one the chances of you ever seeing another one the same seem extremely slim.
You might expect the prices to be considerable and for some versions they certainly can be, but it is definitely possible to buy many of their models for much less than 10K USD and as I said at the beginning you are getting a lot of watch for your money.
Overall this looks to be an excellent addition to the annual Watch Calendar. As is to be expected there are some points that could be improved and it would be nice to hear feedback from some of the watchmakers on what they thought, but overall I thoroughly enjoyed myself and look forward to an even bigger and better show next year!
Category: Watch Shows