Touted as an event that will be the “first of its kind” in Asia showcasing the “very latest creations in the world of haute horlogerie” is the “Watches&Wonders” exhibition which will be held in Hong Kong from 25 to 28 September 2013.
“Watches&Wonders is the platform for fine watchmaking that is being brought to Asia. It is the personal delivery of the season’s latest [watch creations],” says Fabienne Lupo, chairwoman, Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH).
Since the year’s novelties from the participating brands are being showcased, how different will Watches&Wonders be as compared to the annual watch fair – the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) which was held in January?
“SIHH is a trade fair for retailers and the press. The business has been done. September is the period when [most of] the products will have already been made available to the retailers.
“Watches&Wonders is a cultural platform. The focus is on the participating brands’ experience, expertise and know-how; to allow each brand to educate and explain their patrimony.
“The brands will be presenting their craftsmanship. The different savoir faire from the brands are being highlighted to show the art and technique involved in making fine timepieces. Watches&Wonders is for expressing the expertise and general culture of fine watchmaking.
“The agenda for Watches&Wonders is very different from SIHH. At SIHH, the brands show what they do; [at Watches&Wonders] in Hong Kong, they will show who they are,” explains Lupo.
The 13 participating brands of Watches&Wonders are A. Lange & Söhne, Audemars Piguet, Baume & Mercier, Cartier, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Montblanc, Panerai, Piaget, Richard Mille, Roger Dubuis, Vacheron Constantin and Van Cleef & Arpels.
Watches&Wonders is totally different, reiterates Richard Mille, founder of his own eponymous watch brand. “Many people do not fully understand [the differences between the two exhibitions]. Is Watches&Wonders a duplication? It has absolutely nothing to do with it [SIHH].
“At Watches&Wonders, the participating brands will express their watch culture. Why? Because watchmaking developments can be complex. At Watches&Wonders, the brands will have the time to take care of more journalists. Moreover, there will be auction houses and banks participating as well,” says Mille.
One key highlight and attraction which even we will not want to miss is “The Mastery of Time” exhibition by the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH). It is in line with the content published in a book of the same name published by FHH and Flammarion. Written by historian Dominique Fléchon, the book details the evolution of timekeeping from ancient times to the present.
Around “100 artifacts and historically significant timepieces illustrating man’s ingenuity over the centuries in conquering his temporal environment will be exhibited”, according to an official Watches&Wonders statement.
For example, early spring-driven portable clocks and the first watches which were worn around the neck thanks to a cord or chain, also known as the haute époque watches will likely be among the items going on display.
In short, Watches&Wonders is more than just gaining a first-hand view of the year’s new collections, it is also about appreciating the history of watchmaking and how its evolution has allowed mankind to progress.
As Franco Cologni notes in his foreword in the 456-page tome The Mastery of Time, “… it is certain that the evolution of timepieces has accompanied, and even advanced, the history of civilization.”