PRIMETIME - Watchmaking in the News - Geneva Watch Days and 10th Anniversary Special
Hello and welcome on WATCHES TV for a very special edition of PRIMETIME - Watchmaking in the News since a lot has been happening recently on the watchmaking planet, not to mention our very own 10-year anniversary party and we’ll be able to combine the two in today’s video and very importantly I have quite a big announcement to make when it comes to our next 10 years and we have a bit of business news to share too. So yes, we just had the first and probably the most significant watch related gathering of the year with the second edition of the Geneva Watches Days and yes, it felt mighty good to see friends and plenty of watches and we almost forgot how it used to be before this entire messy Covid situation. And this was followed last week with 2021 edition of the EPHJ trade fair dedicated to the suppliers of the industry and this kept busy the entire week, reason why we are airing this edition of PRIMETIME only now and next week we’ll bring our coverage of this fair with a selection of the cool things seen there and we saw plenty.
But first let’s quickly get back on these 10 years, because that’s quite a milestone and what a journey it has been so far and one far from over. You are now more than 145,000 subscribed to this channel, quite impressive considering the type of watchmaking we tend to talk about. Watchmaking as an industry is already pretty niche, but I feel that we cover the niche of the niche with some brands and artisans making only a few watches per year. But despite this, I am totally thrilled that over this period of time we managed to drive and built an interest in something as quite unique as this and after more than 1’300 video reports, well I know we still have so many interesting stories to uncover, so many new things that will continue to surprise us, well it’s almost unlimited. In a certain way, with this last ten-year adventure I have the impression that we have finally reached base camp and we are now standing in front of Mount Everest.
This journey has already been quite something, sometimes having to adapt to the altitude, feeling a bit dizzy or high here and there, but we kept going and I can’t thank enough my team that has helped me make this possible as much as I can’t thank you enough too, our beloved audience, for the wonderful energy we receive through your feedback, because this is precisely what keeps going, especially when it comes to what we now want to focus on for the next few years. And naturally a huge and massive thanks to our Patrons who help us very concretely in making it happen and I strongly believe in this kind of help and support from the community for our next project, because we will definitely need you. So yes, facing the Everest now and to summarise things we now want to tackle something I always to do, but timing is now right and “basically” so to speak I want to produce the ultimate watchmaking video glossary going through all the main watchmaking terms that will give the widest audience possible a comprehensive understanding of how a watch functions and how it is made. This is a really ambitious project and I will share more details in the second part of this edition of PRIMETIME and naturally your feedback and ideas are more than welcome because to make it happen, well there are still a few unanswered questions but we’re moving on regardless. But let’s now go back to the Geneva Watch Days and what we saw there and how we saw it, because we indeed took the occasion of our party to invite some of those who could make it to participate with us at the event.
As a quick reminder, it was not open to the public, so I sincerely want to thank all the brands that have played the game with us and helped us welcome our guests in their already pretty tight schedules. So off we go for an immersive experience into these Geneva Watch Days and after meeting at the club we took our 15 guys for a quick walk where all the action was taking place and we’ll go through the various brands that we visited in alphabetical order, no favouritism and we’ll start with Arnold & Son where we were shown their latest models, including new versions of their Globetrotter GMT… In their astronomical collection, we saw the Luna Magna coming with this immense 3D moon phase, a precise moon phase globe made in half from aventurine, like the dial, and the other half made out of marble. But we then saw the tuned-up version with the Luna Magna Ultimate and extensively gem set, spectacular piece. But since we were at Arnold and since it’s the same people that take care of Angelus, we also got to see some of their models, including the U30 split-seconds chrono.
Ok, let’s move on the alphabet and we’ll go with a B for Bulgari who presented quite a few new pieces. Last year during the Geneva Watch Days they reintroduced the Aluminium collection and now they introduced the Bulgari Bulgari Aluminium GMT, quite a joyful watch with a 24 hour outer ring for the GMT indication and quite reasonably priced and talking about playfulness, well what a cool surprise to see in the Gerald Genta collection the return of Mickey with the Arena Jumping Hour and retrograde minute hand model limited to 150 pieces, a bit on the steep side in terms of pricing around 17’000 USD, but apart from that a cool and fun piece. Ok, upping up the game we got to see the Octo Roma Central Tourbillon Butterly, this time a revamped Daniel Roth design, and now coming in a smaller 41mm case. It’s also a jumping hour but though you may think that we have retrograde minutes, well this is not the case and the originality is that you have a trailing pointer and when it reaches the end of the hour the pointer flips by 90 degrees and opposite the pointer on the other will do the same and starts counting the minutes. But the main new timepiece introduced was for sure the Octo Roma Worldtimer coming in a regular steel coloured case but also a black DLC version. The first one features a blue dial and integrated bracelet, whereas the second one comes with a rubber bracelet.
And the visit continues now with Czapek, a brand which is developing really nicely and congrats to them for this, for sure not an easy task but they are doing it quite smartly. They presented us their latest creation with a really interesting split-seconds chronograph fully developed by them and the team of Chronode called the Antarctique Rattrappante with the clear intent of showing us what was mechanically happening with this openwork approach which nevertheless stays true to the design codes of the brand, for instance the two lowered subdials closer to 6 o’clock. Really interesting piece, the guys liked it! Ok, next meeting and this time by De Bethune and going by the enthusiastic reaction of our group, well this corroborated nicely the brand’s current success and it was during this event that we learned that Watchbox, the powerful second-hand platform, took a majority stake in the brand. I don’t think many of us saw this coming and it’s very interesting to think that merchants are becoming brand owners and we’ll come back on the implications of such a move in the near future, but today let’s go back to watches. Not many had previously seen in real these timepieces and I think everyone was really impressed by the creativity, both visually and technically speaking, and the quality of such pieces.
We were naturally shown their two latest models, the super smart double-faced Kind of Two tourbillon watch and the DB25 GMT. And as we were quite lucky, we also managed to see the amazing unique timepiece using this double-sided feature but this time conjointly developed with Kari Voutilainen for the Only Watch charitable auction. This timepiece is simply incredible, a bit like the best of both worlds, and I’m pretty certain it will fetch quite an astounding price during that auction taking place in early November, but we’ll soon share more details about this.
Ok, next brand as we visited Ferdinand Berthoud and for a brand which was launched only 5 years ago, well it’s pretty impressive how they managed to spread their vision of extreme high-end watchmaking so quickly and reinstate this famous name along this club of illustrious watchmakers of the 18th century. Everyone was really eager to see their famous fusée-chaine mouvement, whether part of the FB1 collection, that’s the tourbillon version, but also with the FB2 and its remontoir d’égalité mechanism and all appreciated the passion put into these timepieces. And for a brand currently producing approximately 30 timepieces per year, well it was quite an exceptional experience to see as many variations presented to all of us, including a unique piece which will also be soon sold for charity. Ok, the journey continues with Greubel Forsey and boy was I happy since I found my next watch.
You guys know my appreciation of the GMT line, well they kept pushing it and presented us the latest version limited to 11 pieces with the GMT Earth Final Version coming in a black attire. Well there is not much objectivity here, but I must say I totally fell for it. Had seen a few pics prior to the event, but in real it’s just so beautiful and I won’t mention the price. So we got to see quite a few models, a very nice treat but the apotheosis came with the presentation of their Grande Sonnerie, a model first presented a few years back, but how not to be blown away by this amazing piece of machinery and what about the quality of its sound, just beautiful and not the kind of timepiece you will see that often. So quite a privilege. Ok and we continue down the alphabet as we are now heading to H. Moser, also a brand
which the group enjoyed a lot and a brand which is doing really well in these strange times. Actually this is something I can almost say for most of the brands we visited, as they have all strengthened their position over the last 18 months, a very interesting and pleasing tendency, as long as speculation doesn’t take control of this. We know there is plenty of cash out there and money simply placed on your bank account won’t get you fabulous returns with these low interest rates and explains partly why people are putting their money on other options, but yes most independent brands are enjoying a very positive dynamic right now to the point that we just heard for instance the Groenfeld brothers decided to stop taking any orders until the end of 2022, what a sign this is! Anyhow and going back to H. Moser, we again got to see many of their new watches and see
in real what this Aventablack dial is all about, plus their latest Streamliner model equipped with their to the point Perpetual Calendar, staying true to their minimalist approach, something they are taking even a bit further when it comes to their logo! Konstantin And then we also had the opportunity of meeting our good friend Konstantin Chaykin, the very creative Russian watchmaker, who showed us his Mars watch, kind of a very special GMT as the second time zone is actually keeping track of Martian time or the bronze version of the joker complication called the Minotaur. Lacroix Ok, but after all these crazy timepieces, felt good to lay our feet slightly back on the ground as we visited Maurice Lacroix who were very open to us as to how they work and develop their watches, how the Aikon is working very nicely for them and how they are expanding the line, for instance with a beefed up version equipped with their own movement but remaining at an affordable price range. Ok, back to some crazy development as we met Mr Bernard Lederer who showed us his extremely creative double impulse chronometer timepiece and I can’t summarise this in 20 seconds, would really be a shame and it totally deserves a full and proper video report, something we hope to do pretty soon too, you will like it I believe. The journey continues and everyone was very excited to visit the team of MB&F who explained us their particularities and showed a few models, even one which hadn’t been officially launched yet but now it’s ok we can show you the new Palladium version of the LM Perpetual, what a piece, but we also got to see their latest co-creation with L’Epée, the famous clockmaker, with the ORB, a very original table clock. We quickly had the opportunity of visiting Parmigiani Fleurier and I was quite impressed with their new Tonda line, a fully revisited collection by their new CEO and in a matter of only a few months they managed to come up with a full collection, much more modern and edgy and I’m very glad they finally did something regarding their logo, something I suggested many years ago.
Ok, next and we could meet yet another Russian brand with Raketa, a brand which used to produce millions of watches in the good old soviet days, but though we’re talking only a few thousand of watches today, the production infrastructure remained and they are trying to give it a new life since they are fully independent and they can for instance produce 100% of their movements internally, yes 100%. Ok, almost the last brand and again everyone was really looking forward to discovering more of URWERK who were launching their latest iteration in the UR-100 collection with the Electrum, the name coming from the case material, a special gold alloy used in the greco-roman antiquity days. A key feature of this new model is the engraved concentric circles, looks really nice, and we also got to see the new UR220 which was launched earlier in the year, an evolution of the UR210. So on the way back to the club and as if we didn’t have enough watches in our heads, well we stopped by Ulysse Nardin to check their latest models, including this fabulous table clock, also co-developed with the team of L’Epée. Yet another quick detour through the Old Town of Geneva with the visit of the MAD Gallery, well this was a must and a nice way to get to our Club space as we hosted our nice little celebration with plenty of friends who dropped by.
Had to make a short speech, "For once instead of saying Welcome on the WATCHES TV, I can say Welcome AT the WATCHES TV and that's a real pleasure", but very importantly was extremely happy to introduce our next big project, one that will keep us busy for many years with our ambitious goal of transforming this, the Berner and the Theory of Watchmaking into a 21st century version and video is by far the best medium to capture the complexity of watchmaking. We have been doing so for the last 10 years and we definitely have by far the biggest video data bank documenting it. Based on our thorough understanding and experience, we have come up with a comprehensive and structured framework as to how videos will be produced and organised. I call this the Glossary Matrix; explaining one term by putting it in perspective of its usage and I will quickly explain. On one side, videos will be organised around the following chapters; machines and tools, materials used, cases, bracelets, dials, movements, complications, decoration and finishing, tuning and adjusting, assembly and control, including all the different certification and existing hallmarks. By putting in perspective, I mean that when applicable every element of terminology will be explained and showcased depending on the type of production; 1st bespoke and unique pieces, 2nd semi-artisanal / semi-industrial (depends on how you see things), 3rd industrial and finally high tech and how technology is and can change things for the future of watchmaking.
So how would this comparative approach work? Well let me give you an example with the art of case-making. To illustrate how bespoke and unique cases are made, we would meet and film an artisan such as our good neighbour Jean-Pierre Hagmann who will explain and exemplify his craft, for semi-artisanal / semi-industrial pieces, we would show how CNC machines are used for smaller quantities adapted for example for some independent brands, for industrial quantities, we would exemplify this by showing how large volume cases are stamped and for the high-tech dimension, we would for instance show how some uses liquid metal to manufacture some of their cases. The goal of this approach is to give an objective understanding of the crafts, competencies, tools and machines depending on these types of production. One method is not necessarily better than the other, there is no judgement, they just suit different objectives based on quality, costs and volumes requirements. Nothing beats hand finishing in terms of superlative and artistic quality, but machine finishing is totally appropriate for a more accessible watch and we want people to understand these differences and make their own opinion based on these objective facts.
Coming back to the case example and as you can imagine a case is much more complex and we will decompose it in its various elements, the sub-chapters; the middle part, the lugs, the glass, the back cover, the bezel, the crown, the joints, the pushers and correctors. So this just illustrates how many videos we will have to produce based on the variety of components and the skills behind each and every single one of them. Every video will be filmed on location; workshops, ateliers, labs and be as immersive as possible. When applicable we will complement what has been shot with additional 3D mock-ups and graphical animations to better illustrate the term and simplify its understanding, as well as use any pertinent element from our video library. So far we have identified 125 terms to be covered, meaning at least 125 videos to be produced and for every single one, we will produce a summarised version openly published on YouTube and social media, approximately 5 to 10 minutes, but also a more detailed and in-depth version. The shorter videos will be useful for the general public and the longer versions are intended for students and other training and professional purposes or for passionate watch lovers.
In conclusion, I hope this could be a federating project to the benefit of watchmaking as a whole; educating a wider audience contributing to the future of the industry, either as new customers or generating new vocations, giving the best and most suited type of content to watchmaking professionals and students with the most relevant people of the industry, because at the end of the day, it’s all about people, their skills, their knowledge and the imperative need to finally capture this in the most pertinent and personal medium, video, and leave a trace for future generations to enjoy and learn from this huge amount of expertise and savoir-faire. Once it’s gone, it’s gone, so there is an absolute need to start and freeze this knowledge in an engaging format and this will be our mission and the mission of all of those who will participate, whether in front of the camera or by contributing in making it happen. And I was half joking when I said that it will keep us busy for the next ten years, but this will depend on how we can finance this, but realistically speaking I think it should take us around 5 years to achieve this and the good news is that it’s probably a never ending project, since new technologies, new solutions emerge all the time and we will therefore continuously upgrade the glossary but with these 125 terms, I think this should already give you great understanding. Ok so don’t want to hold you too long and will end this special edition of PRIMETIME with some business news and this concerns mainly the evolution of the various watch shows planned for next year.
So we don’t have the full list of brands that will participate at Watches & Wonders here in Geneva from March the 30th till April the 5th, we might be in for a few surprises as I heard that some independent brands might do things slightly differently, so am looking forward who will be in the Carré des Horlogers section, but with the recent success of the Geneva Watch Days, I wouldn’t be too surprised that some brands might replicate slightly this format and we could see some of them in hotels and other places around the city. But we’ve heard of another venue to be called Time to Watches, don’t really get this name, that will occur during these same days with the will of regrouping 40-50 brands in the Geneva Art School, we’ll see who will be in, because also at these same dates Baselworld announced that it will hold its fair with the clear intention of appealing to let’s say second tier brands and I don’t want to sound offensive by this, but yes Baselworld did get the message that all the big players will be in Geneva, therefore they are focusing on other brands, offering them better conditions and they did say that they count of having between 200 and 300 brands, including the gems part. Well this all sounds pretty optimistic, because with all that will be happening in Geneva during that week, I clearly doubt that many people will simply be able to combine both experiences. Switzerland is a small country, but logistically speaking this still doesn’t make much sense and I really don’t understand this overlap of dates.
Anyhow, good luck to all these organisers, but the clock is ticking, end of April will be there soon and people need to take decisions now basically. All right, I think we have talked enough now, thanks a lot for watching, really looking forward hearing some feedback regarding our glossary project, thanks so much for all your support, thanks to all those that came to the party, see you real soon and VIVA the next 10 years of WATCHES TV.