This week Geneva’s SIHH fair opened its doors for an invited audience of press and retailers to see the latest from a collection of high-end fake watch brands, led by Cartier and the Richemont contingent. They are joined by Audemars Piguet, Kering’s two haute horlogerie brands, Girard-Perregaux and Ulysse Nardin and, for the second year, the Carré des Horlogers which brings together a selection of smaller, boutique brands ranging from H. Moser to Urwerk.
The Salon unveils this week a much more positive atmosphere than would have seemed even remotely possible 12 months ago. 2016’s figures were dire for the most part, but there looks to be a little light at the end of the tunnel – Richemont reported a 12% rise in sales in the last quarter of the year and analysts expect Swiss exports to improve in 2017.
If that’s the case, the efforts made by the SIHH’s organisers to bring in smaller, edgier brands last year looks to be paying off as the likes of H. Moser and MB&F are important in bringing new generations of replica watch buyers to the market. There’s been a parallel shift in the target for SIHH’s mainstream brands though, as key pieces such as Audemars Piguet’s black ceramic Royal Oak, Montblanc’s 1858 and IWC’s da Vinci collection all point toward a younger demographic.
There’s still horological showstoppers aplenty, not least being Roger Dubuis’ Quattuor in Cobalt-Chrome Micromelt, possibly the most obscure alloy to be adopted by the watch industry yet (it’s chief property apparently being that it’s almost impossible to machine).
Elsewhere, the story is of more individual approaches to design, typified by Jaeger-LeCoultre’s severely styled Master Control counterfeit watches for sale that takes inspiration from a 1930s pocket watch or another Roger Dubuis launch, the Eighties-inflected Excalibur Spider Carbon. We’ll be reporting on the week’s highlights soon.