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Roberta Naas reports from this year's Watches & Wonders Miami.
Miami is all about bold colors, art deco architecture, swanky cars and yachts and luxurious jewels. This all hits home even harder during the three days that comprise Watches & Wonders Miami. This year, in a hot and sticky 80-degree climate, 30 top luxury brands from Richemont Group, LVMH Group and others all came together at the Miami Design District to showcase watches and jewelry to the thousands of visitors that flock to the city for this show, the Miami Yacht Show and the Miami Concours auto show that all take place concurrently.
Watches & Wonders Miami is organized and produced by the Fondation de la Haute Horlogeries (FHH) in cooperation with the Miami Design District Associates (MDDA), and this year – from February 15 though the 17 -- marked the second annual event. This year 30 brands participated. Those that don’t have an established boutique in MDD were exhibiting in a massive temporary pop-up structure that was erected in the Jungle Plaza of MDD in order to offer guests a comfortable setting, complete with a central bar. WorldTempus even had a presence with its Watch Photo Awards entries on display at the show.
In addition to the brands bringing in their newest collections – several choosing the Watches & Wonders venue to launch all-new pieces – watchmaking courses and a host of relevant panel discussions were offered. In fact, I took part as a speaker on a panel entitled “Can women save the watch world.” The lively discussion focused on the changing female consumer, marketing to that customer, and even developing product for women. Other panel discussions included topics around building a watch collection, how social media changes our ability to buy, the impact of digital sales and more. There was even an enlightening presentation by NASA’s Mission Assurance Engineer Ann M. Micklos about the “Watch that survived the break-up of Columbia” space shuttle.
The Marine Mega Yacht watch in its natural environment Roberta Naas/WorldTempus
Watch enthusiasts and collectors came from across the country to partake in the overall event and in the individual conferences and brand activations. Ulysse Nardin used the concurrent Miami Boat Show to unveil its newest Mega Yacht watch, which it then had on display throughout the weekend at Watches & Wonders. Similarly, Nardin’s sister brand Girard-Perregaux used Watches & Wonders to launch its new Quasar watch with Three Bridges movement in a case crafted entirely of sapphire crystal. Thanks to the unusual pairing of light and dark (black bridges, transparent sapphire), the watch was aptly named Quasar and is an extension of the brand’s much-coveted Neo-Tourbillon.
The new Girard-Perregaux Quasar Roberta Naas/WorldTempus
Other brands such as Van Cleef & Arpels and Louis Vuitton showcased their newest watches of the year. As these brands don’t exhibit at the major shows globally, it was refreshing to see the new Van Cleef & Arpels Luminous Zodiac watches now unveiled for women, and the Louis Vuitton crystal-cased Tambour Spin Time Air watches that celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Tambour Spin Time. Independent brand, De Bethune even presented a USA exclusive: the DB28 Kind of Blue with a pink gold case. Just 10 pieces – reserved for American customers – are being made.
Many brands brought watches to the event that have never before been seen in the United States. Piaget, for instance, showed off its record-setting world’s thinnest watch, the Altiplano Ultimate Concept watch. Dior debuted its new “bespoke” concept for the Grand Bal watches (where buyers can customize their Grand Bal watch from inverse rotor materials to dial colors and more). A group of the finest independent watch brands, including Romain Gauthier, Kari Voutilainen and H. Moser & Cie. also showcased new watches – underscoring the importance of these consumer-oriented shows.
For those in the know, Vacheron Constantin also had its newest collection of unique and incredible Les Cabinotiers watches on hand at the boutique. These rare beauties were not on display for everyone to see; you had to know to ask about them.
Yachts at the Miami Yacht Show Roberta Naas/WorldTempus
In short, the second Watches & Wonders Miami show was deemed a success in terms of traffic, events and even watch sales. Indeed, a host of brands indicated on the last day of the show that they had sold multiple watches throughout the weekend and had a lot of leads for potential sales moving forward. With the change in show dates of SIHH and Baselworld next year, we anticipate that Watches & Wonders Miami in February could be the new first-unveiling stop of the year.
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