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SIHH 2017 - Public opening

SIHH 2017 Public opening

We spoke to paying member of the public Yannick about his impressions of the SIHH on its first-ever public opening.

For the first time ever, the SIHH opened its doors to the public this year and 2,500 people took up the opportunity to visit the show for the first time. Throughout the week, industry insiders had been musing about how this would work. How would the access system be transformed overnight to welcome the public? Answer: with the same photo badges given to everyone else. How would the catering be adapted? Answer: no more free champagne and food, simply a cash bar. Not surprisingly, it suddenly became much easier to find a place to sit down on the Friday. 

More importantly, how would the public be welcomed? Airport-style retractable barriers suddenly appeared on some stands, which could be off-putting for the visitor. After paying a considerable sum, why were some brands doing their best to appear closed? In other cases, the barriers merely served as an access point to the stand, Jaeger-LeCoultre for example taking the opportunity to scan the badge of every visitor and presumably gain an insight into how many people were interested in the brand. As far as I could tell, they were the only brand to do this. An innovative bracelet given to each visitor also allowed you to try on the Jaeger-LeCoultre watches virtually on a tablet screen.

Brands who have a greater commercial interest in welcoming the general public because of their more mass-market appeal, such as Baume & Mercier, already had the exhibitions and side attractions for the public. The surf simulator at Baume & Mercier, though unfortunately invisible from the outside of the stand, offered an entry-point to the brand and a subtle explanation of its new orientation towards "gentlesportsmen". The best surfers also had the chance to win a watch. Montblanc also offered a new Timewalker model to the winner of its week-long racing spirit Instagram contest.

After having spent four intensive days at the show, the Friday was also a chance for me to discover things that I had simply missed in the daily rush, for example the excellent exhibition on the Vacheron Constantin stand exploring the relationship between horology and astronomy. It was also a chance to introduce a friend to some of the lesser known brands in the Carré des Horlogers. You can see Yannick's impressions of his visit in the video below. I think it's worth mentioning that Yannick was keen to attend the show purely out of interest and that his replies to our interview questions were completely off the cuff.


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