Watches and Wonder is one of the most eagerly anticipated events on the watchmaking calendar for the industry but this year's edition in Geneva is heralding a first by opening up its doors to the public.
Watches and Wonders Geneva is the most prestigious event of the year for the horology industry and this year marks a historic change as it opens its doors to the public.
From 27 to 31 March the show, whose exhibitors will include Rolex, Cartier, Patek Philippe and Tudor, will unveil the newest releases and innovations to press and buyers, followed by two days over the weekend that watch enthusiasts can buy tickets for.
Outside the flagship event at Geneva’s Palexpo, the city will be celebrating watchmaking for a whole week with boutiques hosting meet-and-greets, specially commissioned artworks and rare pieces, with late night openings, a DJ set and drinks on the evening of 30 March.
The move to expand the event throughout the city and welcome the public is one of the first initiatives by the Watches and Wonders Geneva Foundation which was founded in September 2022. The foundation has been set up by Rolex, Patek Philippe and luxury conglomerate Richemont, which owns Montblanc, Baume et Mercier, Van Cleef & Arpels and many other watch maisons, to promote watchmaking excellence across the globe through in-person and digital events.
Matthieu Humair, CEO of Watches and Wonders Geneva Foundation, explained: “We really want to make Geneva a watchmaking destination and associate the general public with this event. It is something the brands have asked for as well.” The design of the show is expected to be more open than in previous years and a number of engaging areas and events have been designed to appeal to both industry professionals and watch fans. “All this had to be evolved and we are quite happy and excited to welcome the general public during the weekend,” Humair added, noting that interest in the event from the public so far has been high.
Alongside the 48 brand booths at the show, there will be a specially curated exhibition of work by Swiss photographer Karine Bauzin titled “What Time Is It?” exploring a more artistic representation on the concept of time.
The LAB area will be returning to highlight the next frontier in technology and innovation across the industry from companies dedicated to building the future of horology.
There is also a series of talks planned across the week. During the industry portion, executives from major exhibiting brands will deliver keynote speeches, while the weekend will host themed discussions from the latest trends in watches to tips on how to collect vintage timepieces, understanding what the circular economy means for watches and how Web3, the metaverse and blockchain might impact the industry.
Show and tell
Ten new brands will be joining the event for the first time including Alpina, Chronoswiss and Grönefeld. French maison Bell & Ross is also joining the line up. The brand’s co-founder and CEO Carlos Rosillo told Euronews Culture: “I was always very impressed with the quality of the exhibition and the quality of the exhibitors. It's the first time we will be joining but I'm very proud to be one of [the exhibiting brands]. Being with all the key players, it's very motivating. It's like playing a competition with people that you appreciate.”
Rosillo hopes the show will be an opportunity for industry and watch collectors to experience the DNA of the Bell & Ross brand and will also be showcasing some of the more exceptional creations in its portfolio: “I would say that product-wise and style-wise, in terms of comprehension of the brand, people will be able to understand much better the brand in a very functional way. We will have also some surprises at the higher end, in haute horology, because also this kind of event is a nice moment to show some exceptional pieces.”
Post pandemic progress
TAG Heuer will be returning to the event for the second time. This year the brand is celebrating the 60th anniversary of its Carrera watch will play a notable part of its activity at the show. Visitors can also expect a preview of some, as yet, unreleased products.
“It’s really important for industry to have a moment,” George Ciz, chief marketing officer at TAG Heuer, said. “I think it’s great [that the show will be open to the public]. I was a huge advocate of that. It was very inspiring to see so much creativity [last year], so many different ways to present the watches. I hope the public will come and enjoy it.”
Ciz says it has been a challenging few years for the watch industry trying to recover from the pandemic and being hit with supply issues but says this has only made it stronger and more energised. “A number of brands had challenges with supply, which is a challenge on one hand, but it's a benefit because it creates a bit of a scarcity and builds expectation which is good. I think there is a real competition in the industry… We love that. We are competitive by nature and it just makes the job more fun.”
Can’t make it to Geneva? Euronews Culture will be reporting from the show with more updates on the latest releases and trends from the world of luxury Swiss watchmaking.