This week, the international luxury market turns its focus on Geneva, Switzerland’s traditional fine watchmaking center, as high profile luxury watch fairs open here, catering to watch retailers and industry professionals from around the world.
The 18th annual “Salon international de la Haute Horlogerie” (pictured), the biggest luxury watch show in Geneva, opened Monday and runs through Apr. 12. The invitation-only seven-day fair brings together 16 prestigious luxury brands. Most are owned by the Richemont Group; the rest are well-known independents. They are Audemars Piguet, Baume & Mercier, Cartier, Dunhill, Girard-Perregaux, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, JeanRichard, A. Lange & Söhne, 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. The 17th SIHH expects close to 13,000 visitors.
The SIHH is organized by The Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie, a private foundation which promotes the heritage and values of luxury watches and watchmaking (“haute horlogerie”) throughout the world.
Meanwhile, luxury watchmaker Franck Muller Group is hosting the 11th annual edition of its World Presentation of Haute Horlogerie, at its Watchland headquarters, just outside Geneva. The Group has in recent years expanded significantly, becoming a mini-luxury goods conglomerates. It makes not only watch but jewelry, too, and has added a number of high-end watch brands. They include not only Franck Muller and Franck Muller Jewelry, but also Pierre Kunz, ECW (European Company watch), Rodolphe, Alexis Barthelay, Backes & Strauss, and within the past year, Martin Braun, Pierre Michel Golay, and Christian Huygens.
However, many visitors are coming not only for the SIHH or WHPP, but also for one or more of the growing number of smaller luxury watch events and shows in Geneva.
Among them are Jean-Mairet & Gillman’s salon (Apr. 8 – 12); Time Floats, an exhibition of new watch creations of watchmakers HD3 (headed by renowned watch designer Jörg Hysek), Mesures du Temps, and Golay Spierer, held on a Lake Geneva ship, docked and Cvstos The Timekeeper’s annual exhibition (Apr. 7 – 13) of Cvstos The Timekeeper, whose co-owner is the son of Franck Muller Group’s chairman (though the two companies are independent of each other.
These and other similar exhibits and min-shows are held at the same time as, but independent from, SIHH. For watch retailers, having these events at the same time in the same place offer more opportunities to find unique high-end watches to sell in the U.S. luxury market and set themselves apart from competitors.