It’s regrettably rare that the world of haute horlogerie is made accessible to the general public. Of the major events in the watch industry calendar, probably SalonQP is kindest to the layman. Baselworld, despite the fact it is a worthwhile spectacle, is really more of a trade event, and many of the most interesting areas are off limits to those there for personal rather than professional reasons. The same too can be said of SIHH, with brands generally absorbed in meetings with clients rather than attempting to sell their latest creation to the clamouring consumers, desperate for a glimpse of the next big thing.
An Opportunist’s Dream
This month has seen something quite remarkable take place in New York City. Patek Philippe, one of the world’s oldest and most revered watchmaking companies, hosted an exhaustive retrospective of their pieces at a grand exhibition entitled ‘The Art of Watches’.
Paying customers could browse the many mechanical miracles on show. The Patek Philippe museum in Geneva is horological heaven, with hundreds of seminal pieces on display, each meticulously explained and expertly presented; the Patek Philippe Art of Watches event in New York, is most definitely the road show equivalent.
And in many ways the show is a far better way to get a taste of what Patek Philippe is all about. The museum in Geneva is perhaps a little intimidating for the novice, not to mention a little out of the way for American aficionados. The aim of this event in New York was to bring the brand to a wider audience – an aim that was quite masterfully achieved.
Borro Blog visited the event on Sunday the 23rd of July. As one would expect it was necessary to traverse a lengthy queue to access the exhibition, but we were tended to by a dedicated team of tuxedo-clad waiters, on hand to provide bottled water whenever required.
Once inside we were greeted by an array of gorgeous watches. For a potential investor in the brand’s products, the Art of Watches event would surely have imbued any prospective buyer with confidence.
The most endearing thing about this event was the level of transparency. A lot of the time in watchmaking you wonder if you are being sold a story that has no soul. Being able to talk to the experts behind to scenes, to really get into the depth of their knowledge, and to see them answer any questions posed with confidence, passion, and total authenticity was heartening.
The highlights of the show were most definitely the live demonstrations, which go a long way to explaining the oftentimes-stratospheric prices of Patek Philippe watches and those of other ‘super brands’, and the virtual reality display, which enabled visitors to have a go at assembling a watch complication.
Beyond this exhibition’s purpose as a promotional exercise, this event served as an excellent introduction to the craft of watchmaking, and offered myriad superb justifications for the retail value of this brand’s wares.
About the Author: Fell Jensen is a Swiss-trained watchmaker working as an industry analyst.