WatchTime New York 2018 Panel Preview: Meet Independent Watchmaking Stars

Every year at WatchTime New York, we host a number of industry panels throughout the Saturday session. These panels serve as a sort-of bookmark throughout the day and are a great chance to hear watchmakers themselves, industry pundits, and various members of the horological cognoscenti discuss the world of watchmaking as a whole. The first panel starts at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday and is an enhanced version of a panel we ran last year focused on independent watchmakers.

This year, we have six stars of the independent world scheduled to discuss their careers, lives, and the trials and tribulations they’ve faced since starting their firms, in a conversation moderated by noted collector and friend of WatchTime, Jeff Kingston.

Kari Voutilainen, Roland G. Murphy of RGM Watch Co., and Jeff Kingston during the independent’s panel at WatchTime New York 2017.

You won’t want to miss this lineup interact with each other in what promises to be a revealing portrait of the watch industry from the watchmaker’s perspective. Here’s some background on who exactly will be featured in our “Independent Watchmaking Stars” panel.

Stephen Forsey of Greubel Forsey
Stephen Forsey

Stephen Forsey is the co-founder of the La Chaux-de-Fonds-based haut de gamme watch brand, Greubel Forsey, with Robert Greubel. In their own words, Forsey is more focused on the technical development of the watches they produce while Greubel prioritizes the design and creation side of things. Since the duo teamed up in 2004, Greubel Forsey has developed into one of the powerhouses of the independent world with its extremely-limited timepieces commanding huge sums and a mass amount of attention for pioneering new horological techniques. Some of their more important timepieces include the Double Tourbillon 30°, the Quadruple Tourbillon, Tourbillon 24 Secondes, Balancier Spiral Binôme, Différentiel d’Egalité, and Double Balancier, the last of which will be showcased in its Sapphire Edition during the show. Check out our recent conversation with Stephen about the evolution of his GMT concept here.

Romain Gauthier

Romain Gauthier

Romain Gauthier is the head of his eponymous 13-year old firm. Trained and certified as a constructor of precision machinery, Gauthier initially did not intend to make a career in the watch world, yet it drew him in anyways and he’s now one of the most well-regarded makers in this close-knit industry. Two years after founding his brand, he unveiled the first watches, called Prestige HM. Today, the brand offers four in-house-made calibers: Prestige HM, Prestige HMS (launched in 2010), Logical One (unveiled in 2013, the same year it won the GPHG award for Best Men’s Complication), and the Insight Micro-Rotor that made its debut at Baselworld 2017, and was updated this year in two new iterations in black and natural titanium, which you can see during the show. Check out our profile of Romain Gauthier here.

Fiona Krüger

© Cédric Widmer
Fiona Krüger

Fiona Krüger is a young Scottish designer with a fine-arts background who fell in love with horology after moving to Switzerland to complete her Master’s degree in product design. She launched Fiona Krüger timepieces in 2013 and quickly earned recognition from the Swiss watch world thanks to her genre-defying treatment on the always-controversial skull motif. Her most recent release, the Chaos Collection Entropy I will be on display at the show. Click here to read our interview with Krüger from last fall.

Roland G. Murphy of RGM Watch Co. 

Roland G. Murphy of RGM Watches at WatchTime New York 2017

Working out of the historic horological heartland of Lancaster County, PA, Roland G. Murphy is best known as the sole face of American watchmaking in the 21st century. Originally from Baltimore, Murphy is a WOSTEP-trained watchmaker who shocked the industry after deciding he wanted to make a mechanical watch movement completely produced in America. In 2008, he accomplished this with the unveiling of the RGM Caliber 801, which he describes as being the first high-grade mechanical watch movement produced in the United States in four decades. Since that success a decade ago, RGM has released a number of new watches each year including the square William Penn Limited Edition that will be on view at WatchTime New York 2018. You can check out our profile of Murphy from 2015, here.

Rexhep Rexhepi of Akrivia

Rexhep Rexhepi at his workbench.

The youngest watchmaker on our panel, the 31-year old Rexhep Rexhepi, is the founder of the six-year old Akrivia atelier. Rexhepi started his watchmaking career as an apprentice at Patek Philippe when he was only 15. He followed that up by working at F.P. Journe’s Geneva manufacture before founding his own brand in 2012. His most recent release, the Chronomètre Contemporain is nominated for a 2018 GPHG award in the Men’s category and will be on display at the show. He’s also the subject of our most recent in-depth profile that was published yesterday, which you can read here.

Kari Voutilainen

Just over a dozen years ago, Kari Voutilainen was a horological ghostwriter, working anonymously for various high-end watch brands. Except for the few, one-of-a-kind pieces he made under his own label, his work bore the names of others. Today, Voutilainen is one of the most well-known names on the independent watchmaker scene, specializing in small-series and one-off watches. He is admired by collectors for his versatility (he has made tourbillons, repeaters, chronographs, GMT watches, watches with detent escapements, and more), for the quality of his finishing, and for his ability and willingness to custom-make watches for individual collectors. This year, he’ll be showing off the 2018-released 217QRS. You can learn more about him in our profile here.

The “Meet Independent Watchmaking Stars” panel is currently full. You can be placed on a waitlist when purchasing your ticket here

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