Martin Foster visits the artisan watchmakers doing it alone in the new Geneva Time Exhibition.
The first edition of the Geneva Time Exhibition attracted 5500 watch industry professionals to its showcase of 38 brands including Antoine Preziuso, Badollet, Cecil Purnell, Cornelius & Cie, Pierre De Roche, Quinting, Ritmo Mundo, Steenman and Valbray.
The international luxury watch fair is clearly tailored for the individual artisan who eschews the anonymity of BaselWorld but nevertheless seeks prestigious, public exposure.
It is easy to be dwarfed by the jaw-dropping scale of the BaselWorld fair which is open to any and all exhibitors. And historically, it was for this very reason that the Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants (AHCI) was formed 25 years ago to provide exposure for independent watchmakers at a single stand in BaselWorld.
Names that are now part of the fabric of Haute Horology such as Svend Andersen, Matthias Naeschke, Vincent Calabrese, Sinclair Harding, Franck Muller, François-Paul Journe, Philippe Dufour, Felix Baumgartner, Peter Speake-Marin and Vianney Halter, all came to be appreciated by a wider sophisticated collecting public thanks largely to showcasing their work with the AHCI.
Now, in a generational sense, the new Geneva Time Exhibition can be regarded as a serious inevitability of this succession.
The 38 exhibitors that came together for the first GTE are a huge endorsement for this professional forum showcasing watchmaking of the highest craftsmanship and technical accomplishment – with designs not just by famous brands, but also by youthful, little-known yet marvellously gifted watchmakers.
These are indeed horological artisans who had no hesitation in accepting the GTE to make their official debut into the dazzle and brilliance of the public watchmaking world. They are indeed the future of the industry.
Further endorsement of the GTE came from the 6000 luxury watch sector professionals, aficionados, connoisseurs and media representatives from around the world who attended the event and were impressed by the exquisite quality and variety of watches on display.
Plans are in place to take the exhibition to Mumbai later this year but if you are unable to travel to India then plan to visit the next GTE in Geneva – the fair deserves the serious attention it is getting from the wider High Horology profession.