Basel World, which has run every spring since 1917 wrapped up another show this past March. Since then it has been considered one of the premiere watch shows for luxury timepieces. But time is speeding on and things are changing at a breakneck pace and so it seems the same may be true for the world of watch exhibitions. Basel World attendance numbers fell once again, this year by 22%, and the number of exhibitors fell from 650 last year to 520 this year, compared to 1300 in 2017 these figures do not paint a picture of confidence inside the watch industry. The gut punch was Swatch Groups announcement that it was going to drop out of 2019 show and instead staged their own trade show earlier this year, pulling luxury brands like Breguet, Blancpain, Omega and Harry Winston along with it.
Enter the Inaugural WatchTime Los Angeles Event. Fashioned after the WatchTime New
York Event held in Midtown Manhattan, which, for the last 4 consecutive years has seen a growth in attendance and exhibitors and with that began the chatter and demand for a west coast event. WatchTime and long time partner Watch Anish were joined by west coast retailer Bhindi Jewelers, The Hollywood Reporter and WatchBox.
The WatchTime events have been very successful at catering to both watch enthusiasts and brands in equal parts. It’s uniqueness lies in it’s direct to consumer format with the U.S. marketplace as it’s focus since its inception.It’s not an exhibition nor a trade show. With the admission of the general public along with WatchTimes long list of established collectors and enthusiasts it has become the social trunk show, educational forum and industry hub. An eclectic combination which by all appearances seems to be working very well.
People traveled great distances to obtain precious hands-on time from 27 different exhibiting brands both large and small, including, A. Lange & Sohne, Greubel Forsey, Romain Gauthier, Grand Seiko, HYT, and American watchmaking stand out Roland Murphy to name a few. Many of the watches arrived fresh from Switzerland never before seen in the United States. Attendees enjoyed premium beverages and Charcuterie with fellow watch lovers, all the while interacting with high profile designers, watchmaking icons, watch experts and WatchTime editors.
Held in the Hudson Loft in downtown L.A. on Friday and Saturday May 4th and 5th, day one kicked off with a V.I.P. cocktail party along with the first look at what the 27 exhibitors had to offer U.S. watch consumers.
Day 2 consisted of curated panels geared to every level of enthusiast. The day opened with a pre-event panel titled “Inside The Atelier: Meet The Indy Brands.” The Q & A session gave insight into the careers, and creative processes employed by top brands such as Karl Voutiliinen, Roman Gauthier, Armin Strom, watchmaker Claude Greisler, Roland Murphy of RGM Watches located in Pennsylvania along with Chronode founder Jean-Francois Mojon.
Of course being in L.A. the Hollywood influence could not be ignored. The weekends keynote panel, given in partnership with the Hollywood Reporter gathered together in one local a diverse group of entertainment industry watch enthusiasts and influencers to discuss the topic of Hollywood watch collecting. Actor director Fred Savage, noted L.A. based collector Morgan King, a red carpet stylist, and UTA talent agent rounded out the panel co-hosted by the Hollywood Reporter watch writer
Degen Pener along with WatchTime senior editor Mark Bernardo.
Later in the day the guests were offered a chance to attend an engaging presentation by renowned collector Jeff Kingston entitled “The Chronograph 101”. At the end of the 2 days satisfaction seemed to be the theme and a desire for a second annual L.A. event rang through the Hudson Loft.
So at a time when major brands are jockeying to take control of their products from cradle to grave, right down to brick and mortar pre-owned stores, it appears as though WatchTime was in the right place at the right time with their invite the public format. The public, the ones all watch companies need to survive, just may be getting the attention they deserve.
As the WatchTime editor in chief stated “WatchTimes Inaugural Show immediately set a benchmark for multi-channel event platforms in the luxury watch industry”.