SalonQP News from the shires
This year’s exhibition proved that the UK has a role to play not just in luxury watchmaking but in the wider context of the luxury industry in general.
Unlike other regional watch shows, which can tend to be satellite versions of the more famous and bigger ones in Geneva and Basel, SalonQP brings together the very best of mainstream and independent watchmaking from Europe, including the best home-grown talent, as well as local luxury brands. Exhibitors proved that the UK can hold its own in the luxury segment, whether in watchmaking, with the presentation of Roger Smith’s new Triple Calendar timepiece, automobiles, admirably demonstrated by the unmistakable mustard-yellow Lotus Evora and Exige S Club Racer models, or even high-end sound systems, as demonstrated by Scottish company Linn.
The Garrick watch company proudly presented its new “Norfolk” watch at the show, whose understated white dial is made of grand feu enamel at the company’s production facility in Norfolk. To do this, the brand’s craftsmen had to learn this difficult technique themselves, hand enamelling both sides of a silver base in order to prevent any buckling. As further proof of the decentralization of the UK’s luxury industry, exhibitor Lotus is also based in Norfolk and the Dennison Watch Case Co. Ltd, which celebrated a discreet “pre-launch” at the show, revives a name that once produced watch cases for the likes of Omega and Rolex from a huge factory in Birmingham. Last but not least, Roger Smith, who famously produces only a handful of timepieces every year, was on hand to present personally his new triple calendar timepiece. His workshop on the Isle of Man can only be reached by boat or aeroplane from mainland UK. More local to the London area, Richard Hoptroff, a quiet innovator who already exhibited “smart” watches last year, presented a new, slightly smaller, version of his truly unique atomic wristwatch.
For the visiting public, it was a first chance to see such significant new launches as the Opus 14 by Harry Winston and the new 1858 collection from Montblanc, who had brought a watchmaker from its Villeret workshop to show off the fine hand decoration of its Minerva movements. Seiko, which was only exhibiting its high-end Grand Seiko collection at the show, also flew in one of its watchmakers all the way from Japan to demonstrate a similar level of attention lavished on these mechanical calibres.
Chronoswiss was at the show with its new UK distributor Tiago Sa-Henriques. The former luxury watch salesman has set up his own distribution company under the name FOGG Distribution. “I know what it is to sell and I know what it is like not to have support from the brand, so that’s what I want to change,” he says. He promises to bring fresh impetus into Chronoswiss’s UK distribution. “Chronoswiss is back full power,” he promises, “and we will be investing in the UK and supporting retailers.”
Lebeau-Courally had the first of its new moon phase models on display at the show, including a splendid model with a handmade grand feu enamel dial in blue. For the first time, the brand’s signature rifle slide on the left-hand side of the watch case is not mere decoration and has its own function: push it and the date is corrected; pull it and the moon phase display can be corrected in one-day jumps.
Unlike the SIAR exhibition, where there was a clear focus on special editions for the market (read our article here), there was little hint of any pieces for the UK market, the one exception being Laurent Ferrier, who presented two limited editions of 10 models in its Galet Square with micro rotor for its UK retailer William & Son in white and red gold with a blue dial.
Chronoswiss prides itself on being an independent family-owned company that upholds century-old traditions such as enamelling and engine turning. It has always used top-quality components from...Find out more >
Laurent Ferrier’s approach to watchmaking revolves around five essential characteristics that are taken into account in the development of all the brand’s timepieces.Find out more >
Sharing terms such as calibre, lever and barrel, arms manufacturing and watchmaking have certain parallels. Belgian brand Lebeau-Courally has a distinguished history in the latter and is the only...Find out more >
The history of Seiko is a more than 130 year story of innovation. From the very start, Kintaro Hattori was determined to be at the forefront of the industry and his oft-repeated credo was that...Find out more >