SIAR 2016 Watchmaking with a Mexican flavour
The Salón Internacional Alta Relojeria celebrates its 10th anniversary tomorrow. But why Mexico?
“A watch fair in Mexico?” That’s the most common response I receive when I mention my forthcoming trip to people outside my professional circle. To give a thorough explanation would take more than just one sentence. So we’ll be providing it in two parts. This is the first part, which explains the general rationale. The second will be available tomorrow, giving details of products launched specifically for the Latin American market (although we can’t say too much about the big reveals planned for the fair itself).
Before investigating some of the reasons brands choose to participate in the SIAR, and hence what brings the visitors in, we should point out that it is one of several regional watch fairs with international significance, standing alongside similar events in London, Munich, Vienna, Dubai, Macao and New York, though without the global cachet of Baselworld or the SIHH. What all these fairs have in common is their media partnership with Worldtempus and watch magazine GMT, whose XXL World special edition is distributed to visitors.
An effective high-quality interface
HYT, which is exhibiting at the SIAR for the first time this year, confidently points to the fair’s status as “a recognised, high-quality fair, chosen by both big brands and independents as a forum for meeting end clients, South American sales outlets and local press. The SIAR represents an important vehicle for a brand like HYT.” The company’s new Colorblock collection will be unveiled to the public for the first time there. Another watchmaker known by a three-letter acronym, a little further down the alphabet, MCT sees it as a “connoisseurs’ salon: potential clients find it easier to approach us at this kind of event. Not only is our presence as an independent brand highly appreciated, it also gives us greater visibility on the Central and South American markets, including in Miami and the Caribbean.” For the commercial director of Cvstos (a loyal exhibitor since the first SIAR), “Mexico is an important market for us, and we’ve been here for 10 years. There are many collectors in the country, and Mexicans love fine watches. They like to stand out by wearing original pieces by niche brands, rather than having the same watch as their neighbours.” Stefan Kunz confirms this view: “The fair sets a high standard and attracts collectors, connoisseurs and journalists from all over the country and neighbouring regions.” He goes further: “In more difficult periods, such as the one we are experiencing today in the watch market, it is important for us to be there for our partners, and to be visible on the ground. Watch fairs that are open to the public remain an excellent way of communicating with our clients and reaching out to those who don’t yet know us very well. This direct contact with the end client is extremely valuable to us; it gives us a great deal of information and ideas for future collections.”
Using this platform to meet clients and build up a network of local retailers is not the exclusive preserve of high-end niche brands. Bulgari and Jaeger-LeCoultre, for example, have also been there from the start. Cartier describes the SIAR as a forum that “brings together all lovers of fine watchmaking, to discover the latest and most talked-about products of the moment, at an event that has become a point of reference for the watch industry in Latin America.” Eberhard and Eterna beat the same drum. They are supporting local distributor Time 4 Watches by presenting their current collections. Then there’s Frédérique Constant, which is promoting its status as “the only watch manufacture in its price category” with a new perpetual calendar, the cheapest on the market with an in-house movement.
An obligatory stop
Roger Dubuis is there for the third consecutive year. “The SIAR is the most important watch fair in the region, and we’re happy to be here to celebrate its 10th anniversary. Our CEO Jean-Marc Pontroué is making the trip from Geneva for the first time this year. For the SIAR we have created a new Roger Dubuis watch world, highlighting the technical and architectural splendour of watch mechanics, symbolised by a gigantic skeletonised RD01SQ movement in the centre.” Roger Dubuis’ boss is sharing the spotlight with a number of his peers, including Ricardo Guadalupe (Hublot), Antonio Calce (Girard-Perregaux), Pierre Jacques (MCT), Pascal Raffy (Bovet) and Mario Peserico (Eberhard & Co). Guido Terreni, head of Bulgari’s watch division, has made the trip every year for the last five years. This week, the SIAR’s founder Carlos Alonso can also count on the presence of the watch world’s most media-friendly CEO: Jean-Claude Biver, CEO of TAG Heuer and head of LVMH’s watch division (Hublot and Zenith). Hublot’s show of strength is justified by the fact that “Latin America as a whole is one of Hublot’s main markets, and Mexico as a country is becoming increasingly important in the region. A number of Hublot ambassadors have come to Mexico City in the past, and we’ve enjoyed good media visibility as a result. The Hublot Loves Football campaign for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and Euro 2016 were also extremely successful. What’s more, last year the Formula 1 Grand Prix returned to Mexico City, which means that the eyes of the world all turn this way at Grand Prix time. As Hublot is a partner of Ferrari, the company increases its visibility both locally and internationally.” Matching actions with words, Hublot has chosen the SIAR for its worldwide launch of the new Big Bang Black Jaguar White Tiger, whose three versions in steel, ceramic and gold will be unveiled on WorldTempus on the 21st.
For many people, Mexico means fiesta, albeit with some restraint in the case of Chopard: “We want to introduce all the latest L.U.C watches we have added to our collections this year to an audience of South American connoisseurs, and celebrate the 20th anniversary of Chopard Manufacture with our South American friends.” South America will also have the first sight of the Atmos Marc Newson and the Master Memovox Boutique Edition, which Jaeger-LeCoultre’s marketing director is bringing over in his luggage. As Stéphane Belmont notes: “The Grande Maison’s iconic watch is celebrating the 60th anniversary of its automatic movement this year.”
Without going into the motivations of brands as diverse as Armin Strom, Audemars Piguet, Chanel, Cyrus, Girard-Perregaux, Montblanc and Richard Mille, the importance of an appearance at the SIAR is probably sufficiently clear by now, particularly for the 10th anniversary edition. But we have saved the best for the coming days, when we will preview the special limited editions and embargoed launches. Hasta pronto...
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