SIHH Expects 13,000 Visitors; Honors Women and Watches

The 17th annual “Salon international de la Haute Horlogerie,” in Geneva, Switzerland opened Monday and runs through Saturday.

Watch industry professionals travel from around the world to attend this invitation-only seven-day fair, which brings together 16 prestigious luxury brands. Most are owned by the Richemont Group; others are well-known independents. They include A. Lange & Söhne, Alfred Dunhill, Audemars Piguet, Baume & Mercier, Cartier, Girard-Perregaux, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, JeanRichard, Montblanc, Officine Panerai, Parmigiani Fleurier, Piaget, Roger Dubuis, Vacheron Constantin and Van Cleef & Arpels, all in Geneva’s Palexpo center, next to the Geneva Airport. Together, they account for much of the global luxury watch business.

In addition to the 16 exhibiting brands, the SIHH is also hosting an exhibition, entitled “Fine Watchmaking, a Tribute to Women.” It recognizes women’s influence in the history of watchmaking as well as women’s watches, again gaining strength in both the popular- and luxury-priced categories. All the pieces shown in the exhibit are from contemporary collections of the exhibiting brands and are interspersed with portraits of women by renowned photographers.

In 2006, the SIHH welcomed more than 12,000 visitors, including 5,400 customers and 1,200 journalists from around the world. Of those attending, 56 percent of customers came from Europe, 23 percent from Asia, 15 percent from North and South America, and 5 percent from the Middle East.

This year, SIHH expects close to 13,000 visitors. However, many visitors are coming not only to see the SIHH, but one or more of the growing number of smaller luxury watch events and shows in Geneva , a traditional center of Swiss luxury watchmaking. More watch brands, primarily luxury ones, are holding events at the same time as, but independent from, SIHH. For watch retailers, this growing number of events at the same time and place offer more opportunities to find unique high-end watches to sell in the lucrative U.S. luxury market and set themselves apart from competitors.

The SIHH is organized by The Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie, a private foundation created at the initiative of three founder-members: Audemars Piguet, Girard-Perregaux and the Richemont Group. It which promotes the heritage and values of luxury watches and watchmaking (“haute horlogerie”) throughout the world.