TimeCrafters New York: watchmaking capital of the USA?
The latest trends, watchmaking history and brand legacy test their powers of seduction in Manhattan, a microcosm of the American market.
The 4th edition of New York watch fair TimeCrafters, of which WorldTempus is a sponsor, opens its doors on Friday. Yesterday’s welcome reception saw stars from the small and big screens, including TAG Heuer ambassador Patrick Dempsey and ex-footballer-turned TV presenter Michael Strahan, rub shoulders with the many other guests who had turned up to see a preview of the twenty or so exhibitors representing a wide cross-section of the watch industry. TimeCrafters provides a faithful reflection of the diversity of fine watchmaking, introducing connoisseurs and curious outsiders to independent brands such as Audemars Piguet, Chopard, Frédérique Constant, HYT, MCT and Richard Mille, as well as famous names from major groups including A. Lange & Söhne, Baume & Mercier, Hublot, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Roger Dubuis, TAG Heuer, Vacheron Constantin and Zenith, not forgetting local giant Tiffany & Co. This mechanical biodiversity is as stimulating to the watch companies themselves as it is to visitors, who have an unrivalled opportunity to get up close and personal – not only to the watches, which are sometimes brand new releases, but also to an understanding of their origins and their savoir-faire, explained through mini-exhibitions within the confines of the exhibitors’ booths, and to the craftsmen and their managers, even their CEOs, such as Jean-Marc Pontroué (Roger Dubuis) and Pierre Jacques (Manufacture Contemporaine du Temps).
The longest-standing watch manufacture
Vacheron Constantin, for instance, presents New Yorkers with a dual approach, which is simultaneously educational and commercial. The current collection is duly presented, leaving visitors free to indulge in a spot of aspirational window shopping, but the real centrepiece of the booth focuses on initiating visitors into the company’s historic treasures and incredible heritage. “We consider TimeCrafters a meeting place and a forum for dialogue, but also a place of initiation, whatever the level of knowledge our visitors have. We have designed our content to appeal to a very wide audience as well as those with highly specific interests,” explains international director Julien Marchenoir. He points to the scale model of VC’s super-complication, the Reference 57260, and the extremely ambitious Chronogramme project, designed in collaboration with the EPFL and Ecal Lab, which aims to digitise the company’s 260 years of archives in 3D, introduced by an expert from the Metropolitan Museum. After TimeCrafters the project will be introduced to audiences in Miami and Beverly Hills.
Hydromechanical watches with black fluid
HYT offers a complete change of style. It is taking this opportunity to lift the curtain on the limited edition H2 Alinghi in titanium, sporting the colours of the two-time Swiss America’s Cup winner. This HYT with black fluid is sure to make something of a splash. Vincent Perriard, one of the co-founders of this youthful brand, sees TimeCrafters as a way of accelerating its visibility with a highly desirable audience. The approach is part of a strategy to strengthen its presence on the American market, where HYT already has seven points of sale. “2016 will be a decisive year, because we’re going to open our own branch in Miami sometime in the summer or autumn. We’re putting a great deal of energy and resources into making the United States a success. HYT has a strong image because our products are unique (fluid and mechanical) and unconventional, which Americans love.”
A century of innovation
New York is also a very important outlet for TAG Heuer, which chose the city to stage the worldwide launch of its Connected watch last autumn. The president of the US division, Killian Muller, appreciates the fact that “TimeCrafters gives us the opportunity to make contact with our end clients, who are passionate about beautiful things in general, and watches in particular. It’s also an incredible communication platform, because of the number of media representatives who will come to our stand. The theme of TimeCrafters this year (Every watch has a story, what’s yours?) inspired us to tell a wonderful story, about our 100 years of innovation. On display we have a Mikrograph from 1916, our first wristwatch (also from 1916), the first Carrera designed by Jack Heuer, and also contemporary pieces – the Carrera Heuer 1 and 2, the Connected Watch, and our Indy 500 special editions. In 10 days this iconic race will celebrate its 100th year. We’re its official timekeepers, so obviously we want to mark the event in style.”
From Geneva to New York
Not many people know that Tiffany & Co.’s flagship store on 5th Avenue brings in more than two million customers a year, making it the single-brand store with the highest revenues, second only to the Apple Store down the street. And yet this slice of American history has also chosen to display its wares at the Park Avenue Armory, just a few blocks over. Its international marketing director Jean-Christophe Teigner explained the reasoning: “Tiffany was born in New York in 1837, so it’s only natural that it should be present at the fair. It is one of the finest watch fairs, and it brings together sophisticated watch connoisseurs with prestigious manufactures. There was no better opportunity to highlight the link with our heritage, since the fair is taking place in a building that has a Tiffany wall clock! We’ve come full circle!” America’s most famous luxury brand is not content with displaying archive pieces such as the pocket watch that belonged to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, it is also unveiling a new model to be launched this autumn, the CT60 Dual Time, which promises to “build a bridge across the Atlantic between New York and Geneva.” WorldTempus was also fortunate enough to meet the president of the Tiffany & Co. group, Frédéric Cumenal. Look out for our exclusive interview on 23 May.
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