Category: Watch Shows

A Day At SalonQP 2011 – As Seen Through The Eyes Of An Enthusiast

| November 17, 2011 | 1 Reply

Bulgari Gerald Genta Magsonic

Guest contributor John Galt spent some time at London’s SalonQP watch exhibition last week-end experiencing the best of what the UK watch scene has to offer. Here’s what he had to say about the event.

In just three short years QP magazine has established their annual watch exhibition, the SalonQP, as one of the premiere events on the UK’s – and indeed Europe’s – watch calendar. This year the two-day event was hosted in the stunning Saatchi Gallery in London, a fitting venue for a truly incredible display of some of the world’s best pieces of Haute Horologerie.

SalonQP 2011
The UK only show – dedicated to the fine art of high-end watchmaking and all the artistic works that it entails – featured exhibits from a number of the major players, from Lange & Sohne to Zenith, as well as displays from a several home grown talents including the phenomenal talents of the late George Daniels to the more modern designs of Grahams London, plus talks and debates covering a range of topics including the quartz crisis and the continued resurgence of German watch-making.

From the moment you walk up to the Satchi Gallery you are struck by its sheer size and impressive presence. Yet this awestruck feeling is almost all but forgotten as soon as you step through the doors into a horological wonderland. The impressive displays containing some of the world’s best timepieces contrast starkly against the whiteness of the gallery, creating an almost surreal effect.

The first stand I came across was that of Italian jewellery and watch-maker, Bulgari. On display was their breathtaking Gerald Genta Magsonic in rose gold featuring a Grande Sonnerie Tourbillon movement complete with Westminster Chime grand and little strike on four gongs (pictured at top). Each piece takes a full year to create and finish and is presented in a special box designed to amplify the sound of the chimes. Of course to get the watch out of the box you first need to scan your finger through the fingerprint recognition software. Not bad for £535,000, although my personal favorite is the Octo Chronographe Quardi Retro jump hour in Rose Gold with leather strap.

Bremont Marine Clock Ronnie Wood
Bremont’s first bespoke Marine clock, hand-painted by rock’n'roll legend Ronnie Wood.

Next up is Bell & Ross, showcasing a custom motorcycle complete with a watch on the tank, then on to the superb Tag Heur Mikrotimer Flying 1,000th concept which records time to a mind bending 1,000th of a second. A stop at the Harry Winston stand affords an opportunity to gawk at their unique creations which dazzle with both their complexity and their quality. Harry Winston weren’t the only ones packing some star-power however, with UK watch-maker Bremont touting their first Marine clock collaboration with rock ‘n’ roll legend Ronnie Wood – who was of course on hand to lend his support.

A welcome innovation to the show is the addition of the independents gallery, providing a dedicated platform for these high-end niche brands, from the well-established but no less awe-inspiring MB&F with their futuristic Thunderbolt to the up-and-coming Schofield Watch Company who launched their new Signalman GMT timepiece available in stainless steel or DLC which I’m sure will take off after the show if the owner and designer are anything to go by. Also on show was the exquisite Chapter One Round from Maitres du Temps, featuring a world first combination of complications: tourbillon, monopause chrono, retrograde date and GMT with 2 rolling bars for day and phase of moon.

Scholfield Signalman
The newly launched Scholfield Signalman – limited to just 300 pieces

Of course it’s not just about looking at finished products, although that is a very enjoyable experience in itself (believe me!) there are also a number of opportunities to learn more about the complex art of watch-making. You can take advantage of the rare opportunity to participate in a Master-class workshop run by the prestigious Jaeger-LeCoultre – creator of the Reverso timepiece among others, or watch in awe as Corum’s master watch-maker assembles the unique golden bridge movement. Montblanc’s Monique Wyssmueller was also on hand to demonstrate the art of balance springs – a key component responsible for a watch’s timing.

Also for the first time in the UK the Fondation de le Haute Horlogerie staged an exhibition of the history of watchmaking, including rare and important pieces from both Swiss and English collections, a unique event indeed.

The Final Word
With a show like this over 2 floors there is a stand and a watch to suit everyone’s taste, be they traditional or cutting edge. No sales at the show means just friendly and knowledgeable brand representatives on hand who are more than willing to show and explain to you timepieces that you normally wouldn’t ever get to see or hold close up (at least not without the aid of a black American Express card). I personally came away from the show with significantly more knowledge of the inner workings of a timepiece and a renewed appreciation for just how much work it takes to make each of these exquisite creations.

The show runs once a year in London and for anyone with a passion for horolgy attendance is a must.

For more information please visit the official SalonQP website: www.salonqp.com

Marvin Watches Gives TWL’s Ian Ellery Center-Stage At GTE (Video)

| February 9, 2011 | Reply

A few weeks ago at the Geneva Time Exhibition the ever innovative Marvin Watch Co. invited several prominent watch bloggers (including TWL’s very own Swiss Correspondent, Ian Ellery) to share their thoughts on the changing face of the industry in a series of short videos shot on-site. In the video above Ian identifies a couple of key trends present at the SIHH/GTE fairs this year and also shares some of his thoughts on how smaller brands are leveraging tools like social media to gain a competitive advantage over their larger rivals.

If you haven’t seen it already it is definitely worth watching and once you’ve finished make sure you head over to Marvin’s official ‘Backstage’ Blog to check out the rest of the videos and discover more of what this cool brand is up to.

Geneva Time Exhibition 2011 – Day One

| January 17, 2011 | 2 Replies

Geneva Time Exhibition

Editor’s Note: Ian Ellery is TWL’s man on the ground at this year’s major Swiss watch fairs and will be providing us with live daily updates as he travels back and forth between the GTE and the SIHH over the coming week.

Sunday marks the busiest week of the Geneva watch season. While nothing beats Baselworld in terms of scale if there is such a thing as quality over quantity, and I think there is, then this week this is the place to be, these are some of the best watches money can buy. Running from Sunday to Friday, the second edition of the Geneva Time Exhibition is twice the size of last year’s show and while the exhibition hall itself may not be the most conducive to luxury, I find the architecture a bit too 1960s brutish style for my taste, they have given it  a lower light level atmospheric feel.

The first piece of good news is that the Nespresso coffee is at least free which should enable me to keep going. But the real question that seems to be on everybody’s mind is what is the attendance going to be like? The event has been changed from a public one to pre-registered/invite, hopefully that will improve the quality of attendees but might reduce the overall numbers. I guess we will see at the end of the week.

The range of brands here is significant from established brands that one wouldn’t really class as independent, to small companies, with less than 10 employees making only a few watches per year. There is a level of equality among the brands as the booths are all pretty much the same size at around 12 sq m, some a little bigger, some a little smaller, but it does give the smaller brands the opportunity to compete with the larger brands without having to spend large amounts of money.

The frenzy of press releases that always accompanies these types of events have thrown up several interesting items that deserve a closer look; first off I find myself in front of the HD3 stand. These guys have been promoting their digital, yes really, Slyde watch with one of the best videos of the year. The first thing to know about the Slyde is that it is not mechanical. Now normally that would mean me moving swiftly to the next booth but this watch has been created by legendary designer Jorg Hysek so it has to be taken seriously. Mr Hysek is no longer associated with the company that bears his name and is now working with HD3 and his son Jorg Jr.

HD3 Slyde

This digital watch has a configurable touch screen with an interface not unlike an Apple iPod Nano, but with a much greater resolution. By moving your finger from top to bottom you can scroll between the faces of the watch, analog, digital, chronometer and moon phase. Then by scrolling left to right you have more personal setup, pictures etc. Initially available in steel and titanium, without a mechanical movement this is a light watch so for my money the steel version gets you a more substantial feeling, but for a sleek, lightweight solution titanium is the way to go. The watch has a sealed rechargeable battery and a charging base that connects to a computer or standard charger via a USB cable.

At around 4k euros it is also good value for money, a very impressive offering. The official launch is at Basel world with watches shipping in September. Here is a digital watch I would actually buy.

The major stop for the day is Ladoire, who over the last couple of weeks using a very impressive viral marketing campaign have cleverly managed to raise the profile of their brand very quickly. The Black Widow range contains 4 models, Mr Green, Mr Race, Mr Grey and Mr Ice, though mechanically similar they each have a different colour palette that relates to the name.

The range follows the general style of previous Ladoire models in retaining the curved rectangular shape while at the same time managing to be much more striking. The case has been thinned; the face sapphire is now flat rather than curved and so much lighter. The other main difference is the physical size, a little smaller in all dimensions than previous models it hugs the wrist and is consequently more comfortable.

Ladoire Mr Green

Ladoire uses a distributed hand system and perhaps the only real criticism of the previous watches were that they lacked  readability, once you got used to the system they were fine but with the Mr Green that’s not an issue. Green is not really a colour often used in watch making and it really makes a difference here, the time pops right out at you.

Limited to 12 examples of each colour and priced at 68,000CHF all models are available to order now. However if this is something for you be quick, collectors are going to be buying one of each to get the set and the Mr Green looks like it is going to be the most popular model, but once they are sold there will be no more. I think I would go for the Mr Grey, it is a great compromise between wacky styling and an unusual dress watch, but I love the Mr Green too.

Ladoire Mr Green

It’s a great thing when small brands can make such an impact and it really shows what can be done with an intelligent marketing plan and a great product.

One of the other fun pastimes at this type of event is people watching. Holding GTE at the same time as SIHH Geneva draws watch people from around the world and around the corner. Sometimes it can be best to sit still and watch the world go by. Writer Beth Doerr is on the Jury for the GTE show prize and so is flitting around looking at all the watches entered in the contest and marking them.

Watch photographer and development guru Ian Skellern is taking photos, but he is also wearing two watches and one of them is an MCT Sequential One. Photos of this watch don’t really do it justice, first of all it’s big, but it is the funky mechanism that catches the eye.  The centre vane is a three quarter circle on which are placed the minutes. It is three quarters because at the gap is shown the hour. So far not so complicated, but in fact there is an hour indicator at each quarter and at the top of the hour everything jumps. The centre minutes revolve through ninety degrees to display the new hour. In fact the hour numbers are made up of fives vanes, and at the 30 minute mark they switch to the hour value due in two hours.

MCT Watches

The issue with type of watch is always the power distribution and deciding how the increments will be handled. Urwerk tends to have a constant change while here we have a jump mechanism. Whilst the power overhead is probably more it is much more impressive in my opinion. At around 100K CHF you do at least feel you are getting a quality product. 

What really made my day though was Stephen Forsey (of Greubel Forsey fame) stopping for a quick chat and making a throw way comment about how the SIHH announcements could make for an exciting week!

Off to SIHH tomorrow for the next three days and then back to GTE on Thursday. Several other makers to get to as well, I just hope I get the time.

SIHH 2011 And The Geneva Time Exhibition: It’s Show Time!

| January 10, 2011 | 5 Replies

Vacheron Constantin Quai de Lile Annual Calendar
Vacheron Constantin’s Quai de Lile Annual Calendar to be officially released at the SIHH 2011.

It’s that time of the year again. Show time! In just under a week’s time the watch fair season will officially kick off in Switzerland with the Geneva Time Exhibition set to open its doors for only the second time ever on the 16th of January. Following closely will be the exclusive, invite-only Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie which officially gets underway on the 17th of January.

Whilst quite different both shows have attracted a number of exceptional brands who will be presenting their timepieces for the new year, many for the first time. The SIHH, as is traditional will be largely dominated by Maisons from the Richemont stable (the Group does not exhibit at Baselworld) such as personal favorites Jaeger-LeCoultre and A. Lange & Sohne as well as a handful of other very special brands including Greubel Forsey and Richard Mille.

The Geneva Time Exhibition on the other hand will be hosting a staggering 55 different brands (almost double the number of exhibitors from last year), including Cornelius & Cie showcasing the exceptional talents of Kees Engelbarts, Ladoire Geneve, Laurent Ferrier, Rebellion, and Speake-Marin among others. At the same time several brands will be hosting their own private events in Geneva, such as Urwerk who will unveil their all new UR-110 at the Hotel des Berges from the 17th – 20th of January and Christophe Claret who will present his new timepiece under his own brand name, Adagio, at the Beau Rivage Hotel from January 17th – 21st. However, these events, as with the SIHH, are strictly by invitation only.

So, what can you expect? Well, we’ve put together a small sample of the pre-releases that we think might take your fancy. This is by no means an exhaustive list, just something to whet your appetite and perhaps tide you over until Sunday. Of course, if it’s not enough be sure to check back tomorrow, because we’ll have plenty more for you!

Girard-Perregaux 1966 Small Seconds

Girard-Perreguax 1966 Small Seconds

An instant classic for us the Girard-Perreguax 1966 Small Seconds timepiece is the perfect companion when sailing your yacht leisurely around the Mediterranean or taking spirited drives through the Italian countryside in your vintage sports car. According to the brand the design is largely inspired by Girard-Perregaux’s 19th century pocket watches, giving it sense of enduring style complete with enamel dial.

Presented in a pink or white gold 40mm case, the timepiece is powered by a new automatic movement developed from the Girard-Perregaux calibre 3300 with a minimum power reserve of 46 hours. Presented on an alligator strap this is a watch that is likely to feature strongly in your regular rotation.

For more information check out www.girard-perregaux.com

Zeitwinkel 273°

Zeitwinkel 273°

Newcomer Zeitwinkel will be one of the brands exhibiting for the first time at the GTE this year and from the looks of things they have certainly come prepared. Of the four different models on offer our pick is the 273°, a timepiece that appears as elegant as it is functional. Highlights of the extremely functional dial (typical of German design) include the large dual window date display at 11 o’clock and the power reserve indicator placed just between 2 and 3 o’clock.

The movement itself is equally as interesting. A newly developed manufacture movement designed and manufactured in the Jura region of Switzerland, it features a robust three-quarter plate and bridges made of high-quality German silver and boasts a respectable power reserve of 72 hours. Precise German design at its best, this a timepiece destined to be a daily wearer suited to almost any occasion.

To learn more visit www.zeitwinkel.ch

Van Cleef & Arpels Five Weeks In a Balloon

Van Cleef & Arpels Five Weeks In a Balloon

Mixing things up a little is this gorgeous piece from Van Cleef & Arpels, aptly named ‘Five Weeks In A Balloon.’   Inspired by the classic adventure novel of the same name written by Jules Verne, the dial, decorated with champlevé enamel and inlaid with mother-of-pearl, depicts a hot air balloon rising into the air of Zanzibar.

Part of VC&F’s successful Poetic Complications collection the piece features retrograde hours and minutes with the balloon’s anchor and the bird flight providing the indications of time. Much like last year’s collection the Poetic Complications series are guaranteed to be a big hit with female connoisseurs again this year.

Van Cleef & Arpels Five Weeks In a Balloon

The Final Word
This is undeniably the most exciting time of the year for watch enthusiasts and industry observes the world-over and like you we are very much looking forward to what the coming weeks hold. As always our man on the ground, Ian Ellery, will be providing us with live daily updates from both the SIHH and the GTE, and perhaps we’ll even be able to smuggle him into some of the private, individual brand exhibitions!

Make sure you stay tuned; it’s going to be a sensational couple of weeks!

A Day At The Geneva Time Exhibition

| January 18, 2010 | Reply

Chronosome 46XY for men

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.

Chronosome 46XY for men

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.

www.cornelius-cie.ch

Rebellion
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.

Rebellion Tourbillon

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.

www.rebellion-timepieces.com

The Show
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!