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Geneva’s annual watch season-opener gets underway

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Geneva’s annual watch season-opener gets underway
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Some of the world’s finest watchmakers are showing off their latest designs in Geneva, as the industry continues its climb out of a slowdown in recent years.

Thousands of visitors are expected to attend the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH), a chance for exhibitors to turn industry heads.

"The challenge for the watch industry is to be even more creative, even more innovative, surprising," Guillaume de Seynes, Chairman of Hermes watch division, told Euronews at the fair.

"I think there is still a lot of space for beautiful watches showing a great amount of craftsmanship."

Euronews' Damon Embling reported from SIHH: "It does seem this is a business in which time is not standing still. This lab is showcasing some of the latest technology and research, which could disrupt the industry."

Augmented reality tech could help craftspeople - including watchmakers - interact with machinery, staying hands-on.

"With this technology, you can augment the touch and a craftsman can be able to touch which is not normally palpable, the very hot, the very fragile, the very small," explained Swiss enameller Ines Kamaguchi.

Fabienne Lupo, Managing Director of the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie, which organises SIHH, told Euronews: "We are really innovative, really contemporary and modern and dynamic industry - and it's why we wanted to show that - and also to attract new talents."

As the watchmaking industry continues to build business after a drop in sales in 2016 and 2017, China is a key growth market.

"In the future, I see the industry continue to grow and not only conquer new territories, selling a lot in Asia for instance, but also in Western Eu rope, in the western world and in the rest of the world," said Patrick Pruniaux, CEO of Swiss watchmakers Girard-Perregaux and Ulysse Nardin.

This year's event in Geneva's also seen luxury watchmaker Panerai unveiled as a sponsor of Italy's Americas Cup sailing team for the 2021 race.

"We are looking forward to taking part in this Cup," Max Sirena, Skipper of the Luna Rossa team, told Euronews. "There is a lot to do and I mean this is the period when we are taking important and strategic decisions which are going to give us a result in a few years' time.

SIHH also attracts a few celebrity faces. Former James Bond star Pierce Brosnan, a watch industry ambassador, has been among those attracting attention.

This year's Horlogerie event runs until Thursday night, opening its doors to the public on the final day.