What Is It Like To Visit Watches And Wonders?


With nearly 22,000 visitors, Watches & Wonders is the major event in the watch industry. However, when we look at the size of the market that they service, the fair is actually very exclusive, also for us as journalists, as of those 22,000, only a mere 1,000 are representatives of the press. So what is it really like to visit?

One can best describe this as two parts excitement, one part exhaustion, mixed with a very generous dash of passion, and topped off with some good conversation with some of the best people you will ever meet. As for the brands participating, does the preparation for Watches & Wonders also start for us months before it takes place. While the fair lasts for a week, fitting everything in is quite a challenge. Next to seeing the new watches, there are also many interviews and photo shoots that take place during the event. With quite a substantial number of watch brands participating, sound planning is essential to make the most of it.

During the week, there is no such thing as a typical day other than that it starts early and ends late. Eating a hearty breakfast is highly recommended, as appointments are often planned so tight that having a decent lunch is not always an option. Shuttles take you from the hotel to the fair, where you first have to go through security, after which the day can begin. The organization is rather efficient and goes through a great deal of trouble of accommodating the visitors. For us journalists, there are two press centers from which we can work, a haven of somewhat tranquility that allows us to write and edit, to get the stories about the latest and greatest watches out to you, our readers. And yes, you can bump into the occasional celebrity.

The fair itself is quite large, in particular now that some of the brands that used to exhibit at Baselworld have enjoyed the show. Good shoes are vital, because you will be walking miles and often in a hurry. As the exhaustion kicks in after a day or two, coffee and chocolates become a vital part of your diet, and fortunately, all the brands offer both in abundance. After the last appointments in the early evening hours, the day is far from over. There are dinners to attend, some official ones with the brands, but also quite a few unofficial get-togethers with people from the industry who have become friends. Once back in the hotel, some more writing and editing need to be done before we can finally lay down.

While it is a hectic week, with lots of work to be done, it is also a joy to do. Not only to be among the first to see, touch, and wear the latest models but also to discuss them with the people behind them. This is one of the most important aspects and one of the reasons I feel that watch fairs will always continue to exist in one form or another. From the technical aspects to the design and even the commercial positioning, everything and all is discussed, which will inevitably lead to a sort of information overload. Therefore, the week after the fair is not only for physical recovery but also to let everything sink in that you saw, so we can start planning stories for the months ahead.

Have you ever attended a major watch event? Let us know in the comments! You can also attend one of the next upcoming major watch events this May in Los Angeles at WatchTime LA 2022; visit here for details.

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  1. Humberto Pacheco

    In May 2005 WatchTime sent a reporter to Costa Rica to write about my large collection of top Swiss timepieces. Watches like my Lange One Platinum with blue dial…only it did not come with a blue dial. The factory obliged for me. As did Ulysse Nardin with my first Astrolabium with the band arms. Jean Claude Biver, then my peer at the YPO, gave me a tour of Blancpain Genève and Le Brassus and Federica Piguet, when I REACHED 50 years and had to leave YPO. From that trip I came out with a Marvelous Blancpain 8 day Tourbillon.

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  2. Peter Edwin Sunga

    I have only attended one..the first watches and wonders in HK held many years ago. It’s an experience and I hope to go again when this pandemic is over.

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  3. Humberto Pacheco

    I was graced by two friends who got me wonderful watches from their factories: Phillipe Stern and Rolf Snyder. Both would receive me at their “tents” in Basel and I managed to get exclusives no longer in the market. I managed to get two Patel Philippe Russians, one in white dial and the other dark. I got two Trilogies of Time, the first with the Astrolabium’s “original” band holders, a feature that I loved but had been abandoned. My 2001 Freak, worked upon by the factory during two years to correct design flaws. I turned down Mr. Schnyder’s offer for a more expensive watch, against his commitment to make the Freak perfect. Needless to say he did. And there are many more stories of other great watchmakers from where this come.

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