In this topsy-turvy year for the watch industry, some traditions must be maintained, even if they look a bit different. WatchTime’s highly successful New York and Los Angeles collectors’ shows, which have brought brands and collectors together in person for five years, went fully digital in 2020. From October 21 to 24, some of the industry’s leading watch brands participated in WatchTime Live, a new virtual format that offered exclusive product presentations, industry panel discussions, and interactive conversations between collectors and brand representatives.
“While we obviously all miss the traditional watch shows this year, going virtual was the only logical, and more importantly the only responsible option for us,” says WatchTime publisher Sara Orlando. The new format attracted almost 600 collectors and featured more than 20 brands, including industry heavyweights like A. Lange & Söhne, Blancpain, Breguet, Grand Seiko, Greubel Forsey, IWC, Oris, Seiko, Tudor, and Vacheron Constantin.
Like its popular live-event predecessors, WatchTime Live featured an array of watch-industry panels, presentations and discussions, with industry VIPs holding forth on popular topics like chronographs, dive watches, pilots’ watches, high complications, and the state of watchmaking in 2020 and beyond. Hosts included WatchTime Editor-in-Chief Roger Ruegger, Senior Editor Mark Bernardo, and WatchTime’s longtime event partner, Jeff Kingston.
“Thanks to the participating brands and the possibilities of a fully digital format, we were able to offer the audience a truly unique possibility to interact with brand executives,” says WatchTime Editor-in-Chief Roger Ruegger. Seiko, for example chose to launch its new collection of dive watches from the New York Aquarium, the oldest continually operating aquarium in the United States, which meant that the whole panel was staged in front of sharks and turtles. U.K.-based Bremont, on the other hand, chose to offer live on screen an exclusive glimpse into its new Manufacturing & Technology Centre, also known as ‘The Wing,” planned to open its doors early in 2021. Joining remotely from the Salón Internacional Alta Relojería México (SIAR) in Mexico, Greubel Forsey’s Stephen Forsey gave a hands-on demonstration of the GPHG-shortlisted Hand Made 1, while his team in La Chaux-de-Fonds contributed the mechanical parts’ demonstration. Max Büsser of MB&F talked about his career from Dubai, and IWC CEO Chris Grainger-Herr dialed in from the brand’s HQ in Schaffhausen.
Other audience magnets included “It’s complicated” (with A. Lange & Söhne Director of Product Development Anthony de Haas, Greubel Forsey co-founder Stephen Forsey and Vacheron Constantin Heritage & Style Director Christian Selmoni) and “Chronographs” (with de Haas, Blancpain Vice President & Head of Sales Marc Junod and Chopard L.U.C. International Sales Manager, Pau Infante) and a conversation between Breguet’s Ahmad Shahriar and a collector of the brand. Attendees were also treated to the premiere of Oris’ new, in-house automatic movement, Caliber 400, and the unveiling of Bell & Ross’s all-new BR 05 Chronograph collection, hosted by founders Bruno Belamich and Carlos Rosillo. Last but not least, fan favorites Joe Kirk of Grand Seiko, Ron Stoll of Carl F. Bucherer, and RGM’s Roland Murphy talked about their novelties, watchmaking, and the people behind the brands we all came to appreciate.
“How often do you get to see and interact with watch industry legends like Stephen Forsey, Roland Murphy, Max Büsser and Laurent Ferrier from the comfort of your living room?” concluded one collector. Unsurprisingly, WatchTime Live will soon return to a screen near you.