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Watches & Wonders Miami - Turning up the temperature in Florida

Watches & Wonders Miami Turning up the temperature in Florida

The Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie and 30 watch brands educated the American public and introduced their latest releases in the Miami Design District.

For its second edition, Watches & Wonders Miami has made major efforts to promote watches with the general public, for instance by having the Omega astronaut wandering around the exhibition space with a Speedmaster on his wrist, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. From 15 to 17 February, the same dates as the Miami Yacht Show, the Design District hummed and whirred to the rhythm of an intensive programme combining watchmaking and luxury lifestyle. Receptions, concerts, fancy cars and celebrities were combined with watchmaking workshops, thematic conferences and watch exhibitions, in a charming pedestrian area complete with luxury boutiques, bars, restaurants and pavement cafés shaded by palm trees. Could this be the perfect recipe to seduce clients on the hunt for personal contact, unique experiences and, incidentally, new watches? In the opinion of the exhibitors and visitors who were present last year, the event has really moved up a gear for 2019. The idea of putting the four watch groups together under one roof was clearly a good one. Two-thirds of the brands taking part in Watches & Wonders received visitors in their boutiques, while the rest took advantage of a pop-up space set up around a lounge bar. An entire floor above the exhibition area was given over to a general interest zone. This section featured the Watch Photo Awards exhibition, direct from Geneva, stopping over in Miami before leaving for its final destination, Baselworld.

Turning up the temperature in Florida

Watch Photo Awards Exhibition © WorldTempus/Brice Lechevalier

For the majority of brands taking part in the event, this encounter with American clients and media provided their first opportunity to introduce some of the new products they unveiled at the SIHH. They included historic collections, such as Zenith’s launch to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the El Primero calibre, unique pieces such as the heritage watches revealed by Vacheron Constantin, and special limited editions targeted specifically at the US market. The efforts undertaken by the brands to attract clients varied from one boutique to another.

Turning up the temperature in Florida

© WorldTempus/Brice Lechevalier

Miami as a launch platform

To the delight of visitors to Watch & Wonders, some brands took the opportunity offered by this new platform to launch new models. Girard-Perregaux unveiled the Quasar, its new tourbillon with three bridges, in a sapphire case. Another haute horlogerie brand, Ulysse Nardin, wrote a new chapter in its nautically inspired mechanical odyssey with a stunning Mega Yacht Marine. With Patrick Pruniaux at the helm since 2017, the brand is clearly setting a new course, and didn’t rely solely on its booth to assert its authority on Floridian soil. As a sponsor of the prestigious Miami Yacht Show, Ulysse Nardin also hosted the biggest gala reception of the weekend, with 400 guests soaking in the glamorous ambiance of the superyacht marina, under the banner of the Freak X collection. Taking a more intimate approach, Roger Dubuis invited its clients to a dinner in an art gallery, while Panerai, which has always had a close affinity with the sea, invited customers aboard a yacht with CEO Jean-Marc Pontroué. Given the importance of the American market, Watches & Wonders Miami did double duty for Panerai. Its flagship store is in the heart of the Design District, and the brand also sponsors Design Miami (in December), where it presents the Design Visionary Awards. Lucky clients were able to discover the Luminor 1950 10-day automatic with a blue dial, a special limited series designed specifically for the boutique. 

Turning up the temperature in Florida

The new H1.0 © WorldTempus/Brice Lechevalier

At the Roger Dubuis booth, which featured a Lamborghini centrepiece, it was possible to admire an Excalibur Skeleton Canelo, a limited series for the US market named after multiple world champion boxer Saul Canelo Alvarez. HYT unveiled a brand new H1.0, which will be available exclusively in the US for three months before being let loose on the rest of the world.  Over at Zenith, American exclusivity was given an original interpretation with the Swizz Beatz Defy Classic, which comes in a special box that doubles as a turntable. In the zone shared by 12 brands, collectors were able to talk to artisans including Kari Voutilainen and Romain Gauthier, as well as executives of very high-end niche brands such as De Bethune, whose CEO Pierre Jacques unveiled the DB28 Kind of Gold, a highly convincing limited edition of 10 pieces for the USA.

Turning up the temperature in Florida

© WorldTempus/Brice Lechevalier

In accordance with the saying that “good things come in threes”, next year’s edition, Watches & Wonders Miami 2020, is expected to be confirmed very soon, with probably even more brands, and perhaps, given the new dates of the SIHH and Baselworld, a slightly modified schedule.

Turning up the temperature in Florida

Roger Dubuis booth with Lamborghini © WorldTempus/Brice Lechevalier

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