For the third year in a row, our friends at Montblanc invited me to the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie or SIHH. This allowed me to have a look behind the scenes of the most prestigious luxury watch fair in the world.
Montblanc CEO mister Lutz Bethge talks with us about the SIHH and the Montblanc resident photographer Pascal Le Segretain, who captured the atmosphere in stylish black & white, monochrome, images. And like we promised… in a few days, we have an exiting prize to give away to one of you!
The SIHH is a magnificent experience; it’s an invitation-only event where only the guests of the 16 exhibiting brands are welcome. Just imagine, 30.000 square meters, 16 exhibiting brands with HUGE booths, tables for 3-course lunch, bars for coffee, tea, your morning croissant or a nice glass of wine in the afternoon. And that for no less then 12.500 guests; it’s an impressive organization!
Mister Lutz Bethge, Montblanc CEO, was so kind to talk to us about the importance of the SIHH. He speaks about how the SIHH is for him and for Montblanc.
Not only are the aforementioned numbers impressive, this is also THE moment that all brands meet with the retail partners and business for an entire years is done. So for all watch brands under the Richemont umbrella, the SIHH is the most important week of the year.
Not only all retail partners are invited, but also a very select group of the best customers, an impressive number of celebs (Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stalone, Boris Becker, Michael Schumacher, you name ‘em) and of course… journalists and bloggers. In a few weeks you can read everything about the new watch models in watch magazines from around the world, bloggers have kept you undated on the latest new as it happened.
That’s when photos like the wrist shot above are being made. Montblanc lent me the newest Nicolas Rieussec Rising Hours, for wearing during the entire week and this resulted in the review we published here. Style-wise a perfect continuation for the Nicolas Rieussec collection, as the hours are now also indicated by a rotating disc, just like the elapsed time of the chronograph, the date and the day of the week.
And this is what a blogger does… showing a watch in its natural habitat, i.e. on the wrist of course!
And to keep you guys posted, a laptop also comes in handy. Writing down my thoughts about the event or a particular timepiece. Blogging; you need a camera and a laptop and you’re good to go. And of course it doesn’t hurt to know what you’re talking about. The exhibiting brands provide you with all necessary information, in the press presentations and on memory sticks with all their watch’s specifications. However with 16 exhibiting brands and an average of 10 new timepieces per brand, this still means explaining well over 100 new watches!
And since the flu hit me hard during the SIHH, I am extremely grateful that Monochrome’s contributors Evan, Mario, Max and Robin covered most new watches, or at least the most important ones. Over the coming weeks I will make sure to share the hands-on experiences and photos made during this Watch Wonder Week.
Now on to the photos and my host for the week: Montblanc. Montblanc has two manufactories, one being the place of birth of the Nicolas Rieussec, the TimeWalker TwinFly and the new TimeWalker World-Time Hemisphere. The other is the historic manufacture in Villeret, the former Minerva manufacture, where “hand-made” is still the standard.
Through the Institut Minerva de Recherche en Haute Horlogerie, Montblanc gives young watchmakers the opportunity to develop their skill under the guidance of master watchmaker Demetrio Cabiddu. Here’s part of the dial of the Montblanc Metamorphosis, a timepiece with two faces. First it’s a regulator timepiece, meaning the hour hand and minute hand indicate time on their own register. When you push the slide on the side of the case, the dial opens up and transforms into a chronograph.
Transformers on your wrist? Sure for a mere 195.000 Euro you can push the slide that starts the transformation. A unique moment, as no other watch in the world opens up its dial and sees another dial rise from below. A spectacular view and it can almost be considered a double-function wrist watch and an automata in one.
Below you can see a watchmaker working on one of Montblanc ‘s top pieces, the Régulateur Nautique.
Also one of the things we get to see at the SIHH, as the brands will do their utmost best to show you what they are about.
When seeing photos like these I wonder if a good watchmaker could also be a good surgeon? One thing is certain: there are not enough qualified watchmakers able to work on the most complicated mechanical movements in Switzerland. Of course there are thousands of watchmakers working on the assembly line of factories of some of the big name brands. However the skills to create a watch by hand, assemble it, do all the finish yourself.. now those are rare skills and make that the price for these watches runs up to the price of a nice house.
So if you ever considered a career in watchmaking, buying a one-way ticket to Switzerland might just be an idea. Fame and glory are of course the next stop and unlimited women who do anything for the attention of a skilled watchmaker. Becoming a plastic surgeon is so 2012, watchmaking is the thing to do in 2013.
This is something you might be able to create, at least when you’re beyond apprentice status. The Montblanc Grand Tourbillon Heures Mysterieuses features a tourbillon and displays the hours and minutes as ‘Heures Mysterieuses’. This means the hour and minute hand are printed on two sapphire discs that rotate, so the hands seem to float in the air.
All photos by Pascal Le Segretain for Montblanc.
This article is written by Frank Geelen, executive editor for Monochrome Watches.