Monochrome Watches
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The Watch Factory during SIHH 2010

| By Frank Geelen | 6 min read |

The Watch Factory was a small sideshow exhibition at Baselworld 2009. Although it was the first time for this extra exhibition for Independent Haute Horlogerie, it was a huge success. Next year it The Watch Factory will be over the course of the SIHH and Baselworld.

The Watch Factory

During this year’s Baselworld (2009) i spent most of my time at the booths of Independent Watchmakers. Why? The atmosphere was more relaxed, no tight schedules, a chance to talk to the watchmaker himself in stead of a sales person, the chance to ask questions in stead of listening to that sales person who has been ‘broadcasting’ the same 30 minute ‘programme’ 15 times a day and 7 days a week during Baselworld. I know, this might sound harsh, but i have to be honest. The bigger the brand, the less open and informative they are (this is at least my opinion). One huge exeption must be mentioned… Glashütte Original‘s new managing director, Thomas Meier, gave a most impressive (and funny) presentation at Baselworld 2009.

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Grégory Pons has recently announced on Business Montres that The Watch Factory will be presenting in Geneva over the course of the SIHH: 17-24 January 2010. And it looks to be bigger than before, with 20 – 30 brands expected to participate.

This initiative is an excellent idea for two reasons:

1. It allows smaller brands and independents a cost effective vehicle for presenting to the public, journalists and collectors.

2. The public and watch aficionados, who are not allowed at the ‘professionals only’ SIHH will have a chance to see a large selection of some of the most interesting timepieces in the world talk to their creators.

For everyone who’s French is as crappy as mine, here’s translation of the original article published on Business Montres. With a little help from google translation and some rewriting, because the google translation didn’t make that much sense either 🙂

• • • WHY THE WATCH FACTORY in Geneva in January 2010?

The best answer would be why not? When we have friends visiting our city, the least we can do is show them around town. Many young creative brands of the new generation now have a more natural place for them to arrange their meetings with retailers and their friends and with the major players in the watch industry.

In recent years these meetings took place in hotel suites around town or in the mini-manufactures. This meant that in order to meet each other everyone had to run from one place to another. The Watch Factory Geneva 2010 – independent living for contemporary watches – will be held in downtown Geneva at the heart of a complex for international conferences. For obvious reasons, these places are hyper-secure, halfway between the airport and major hotels, with all parking facilities, bus and tram between the two destinations, even with a private shuttle.

The whole “family” will be grouped together, with between 20 and 30 brands of new generation watchmakers in the same place. This creates a very accessible alternative concept of based on the same principle, experienced during Baselworld 2009: maximalise creativity and minimalise decoration, for a selected audience of retailers, journalists and (this is new) selected fans (boy, do i hope to be invited!!).


Although earlier this year analysts expected the business for the watch industry to pick up, it seems this is not the case. The luxury watch industry feels the disastrous effects of the global financial crisis and the current transformation of the luxury industry. Business is business. The crisis has a serious impact: lack of cash, retailers no longer want to order and the question pops why spent two weeks at the official watch shows in Basel and Geneva. Hence the temptation avowed by many of these retailers: Basel or Geneva, you have to choose, more and more of them preferring one or the other but not both. It seems logical  when you think about the pressure of the big brands to order at any price, even though they are already have overstock.

This is why the Watch Factory concept works best for independent labels: visitors don’t have to choose, we do two shows!

• • • WHAT CONCEPT FOR THE WATCH FACTORY in Geneva in January 2010?

The Watch Factory Geneva 2010 will be held from Sunday January 17th to Sunday January 24th. Why Sunday to Sunday? Because, on these dates, many of our Asian and American friends are present in Geneva at the weekend before the SIHH and they stay until next weekend. It is also a service to lovers of fine watches that work in the week: it will be easier to plan a quick trip to Geneva to take advantage of an invitation.

The whole thing will be ultra-professional. The exhibition place, the organization and logistics and of course the booths. International communication – B2B and B2C – is carried out by a specialized agency. The show itself will be administered by a dedicated company.

The exhibit hall, open to natural light and luxuriously decorated (blond wood, contemporary architecture), will be equipped with all amenities (private cafeteria, locker room, reception, toilets, private rooms for confidential meetings, conference rooms if necessary, etc.). Stands & decorated have been designed into the logic of neo-luxury low cost.


The Watch Factory will include many of those who have experienced this new trend at Baselworld, but it will not be a lounge reserved only for the ultra-exclusive watch, not a lounge for hyper-specialists of the high complication. The Watch Factory will provide a representation of a new generation watchmakers in all its facets and (almost) all prices.

As at Baselworld 2009, the Watch Factory gave place to the manufactures of complications and watches that offer an alternative to ‘new watches’. Next year will be a ‘family party’ and bring together a more wide variety of the new generation, which will be there in all its diversity.

The list of exhibitors will be published later. The event takes place in six months! Say that to date, 25 to 30 homes or more are expected.


When a friend comes for dinner, are we asked who pais for petrol or parking? Since there are so many people visiting Geneva at the same time, why not make a lot of international retailers and journalists part of the ‘family’.

Clarification: in the spring of 2009 the management of Baselworld had generously agreed to make a gesture towards the new watch generation. This gave birth to the Watch Factory in Basel and it’s international success.

The same exhibition was proposed to the management of the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH), a place close to the ‘noble hall’ with low cost decoration to compress costs. The goal is to prevent guests from having to travel throughout Geneva all the time in order to attend every presentation and visit every brand.

The idea was to consolidate around Palexpo, with the obvious reason already mentioned (less travelling for all stakeholders). Unfortunately the SIHH didn’t agree and the Watch Factory then had no choice. Since many of the independent watchmakers exopsing at the Watch Factory are from Geneva an alternative central location had to be found. And with success.

• • • TO DO

This initiative is rich in potential for the brands of the new generation, who are faced with dramatic declines in orders from their retailers. The scarcity of media attention in watch magazines watch and their shrinking market share, pressure groups from advertising, a little more editorial restrictions, all put extra pressure on the attention given to independent labels. It is therefore for these brands to speak: it is a duty and an honor for Business Watches to join this initiative to support actively and without reservation.

5 responses

  1. “WHY THE WATCH FACTORY in Geneva in January 2010? The best answer would be why not?”

    But then again; Why not in Basel? Basel gave the opportunity for the birth and succes of this initiative. Or will it be Geneva AND Basel in 2010?

    In my opinion the Baselworld overall is still less ‘commerical’ than the SIHH. At least there are still more independent watchmakers/brands within the fair then there are in Geneva – so I think the ‘friends’ comming to Basel would suit much better to The Watch Factory than the commercial buyers comming to the SIHH…

    On the other hand; now real watch lovers have a good reason to come visit Switzerland twice a year (as long as the SIHH will be held in January) 😉

  2. I know it’s a long article… 😀
    “…visitors don’t have to choose, we do two shows!”
    Isn’t that just great? So Gerard, are you ready for a road trip?

  3. The second time I red the article, I saw it and I added ‘Or will it be Geneva AND Basel in 2010?’. It’s just that I could hardly believe that.

    For me it will be Baselworld in that case. Now all the other independents come to Basel as well, there’s no need anymore to come to Geneva in January at all 😉

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