Outsider’s Look Inside SIHH Week
Sometimes we at Monochrome get help, unasked and unexpectedly, and highly appreciated. Kal, a Genevan based watch lover, has supported us for a long time through Twitter. I hope many of you will support us through social media, by re-tweeting like Kal does, liking on Facebook or sharing our photos at Pinterest.
Kal not only supported us through Twitter, he also told us that he would love to share his SIHH experiences with all of you. The story perfectly describes the SIHH as an outsider’s look inside.
Allow me to preface this story with a thank you to Richemont for the event and personally to Nicolas Fermont (from Roger Dubuis) for his kind invite. In my years of infatuation with watches, it is my first time inside the hive called SIHH. Very much like Baselworld, this is a trade event – in every day speak, if you ain’t buyin’, you’re not invited. And we’re not talking a watch, or a 40th anniversary birthday grail. Authorized Dealers and retailers flock to book and commit their purchases with the participating 16 brands.
Watches from affordable to astronomical have all been covered extensively so I take the floor today with eye on the soldiers who let you glimpse behind the walls and give you enough information to execute your next ticking acquisition or merely admire what humans and robots produce in the whirlwind of ideas and CNC code.
Ah, the bloggers. Just last week, a CEO autographed a book for me with “Long life bloggers!” after I grilled him well past the allotted 15 minutes. It is a message of mixed feelings – both respect for the knowledge we pack in a fistful of keystrokes, as well as sentiment over the days when media was more under control and you got the publicity you paid for.
There is, however, this rare breed of writers – well educated, highly knowledgeable and involved in pretty much every reading worth your time lately. Twitter, Tumblr, forums, blogs, apps, magazines alike – you read them everywhere you can. And to many they are spoiled beyond their riches and anyone could fill their shoes in a heartbeat. Not so fast.
The SIHH Week has several big streams. A stone’s throw away from the airport is the Palexpo, a 100,000-plus sq.m conference center is the SIHH mother ship.
Inside the fortress at Palexpo is the window-less Vegas-like hive where things are timed with military precision. Press conferences, access to the restaurants, Q&A, hands-on time, one-on-ones with the key people and the ultimate quick jump to the factory by helicopter or otherwise.
Then you have the satellite events which piggy back on the mother ship gravity and try to pull off their own gig in equal grandeur and questionable publicity. Geneva Time Exhibition changes location from one year to the next and hosts a mix of worthy independents like Antoine Martin, Atelier de Monaco, Badollet, Cabestan, Laurent Ferrier, Hautlence, Heritage Watch Manufacture, Moser & Cie, RGM and Peter Speake-Marin and others categorized by not so worthy names by the event crowd.
This year they set up right the Geneva’s center. Located in the former water works, the Bâtiment des Forces Motrices, is today a very cool and stylish place for an exhibition like the GTE. The photo below is shot by Geo.
Third stream is the Geneva Fair setup by Franck Muller and Hublot – unclear if this has any ambitions to affiliate other brands or if it will remain the Muller/Hublot show.
Fourth on the news ticker is the hotel ring which often outshines the second and third streams – brands who wish to tap into the buyer pulse setup offices in hotel suites or conference rooms and welcome on appointment. Think Zenith, DeBethune, URWERK, Christophe Claret and some Baselworld exhibitors. The local Geneva brands – exhibitors or not – have the benefit of both manufacture and other venues to interact – Patek, Romain Jerome, MB&F et al.
The invisible stream consists of handshakes and short-talks, quick chats over coffee and words exchanged while posting this last piece you just got and juicing up the laptop battery. Still with me? Add to this the Boat, an actual ship coasted off the Kempinski Hotel – very much like a casino in Macao – it is the evening place to be, if you wish to rub against the industry elite in more informal setting. The invite-only CEO dinners, the top floor DJ parties are also in play and by now you maybe start to grasp exactly how much is crammed into ephemeral 120 hours and change.
This article is written by guest contributor Kal. You can follow Kal, or “Tom Hanx” at Twitter -> @Tom_Hanx