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CORDER’S COLUMN: WATCHPRO lights up London

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Rob Corder.

The thing about watches is that nobody needs them anymore, which is why Jean-Claude Biver always told me that the job of brands is to create irrational desire.

That advice always stuck with me, which is why, when we brought the watch world together last week for WATCHPRO Awards and WATCHPRO Salon, our focus was on making these events exciting and fun as well as useful and functional.

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Champagne was flowing for three days; VIPs slipped into their black tie and ball gowns for the Awards; influencers filmed breathless videos for their Youtube and Instagram feeds; press and retailers flocked to see 50 brands and partners at the debut of WATCHPRO Salon.

Most importantly, the industry, media and consumers came together after almost two years of restrictions and lock downs to enjoy spending time in each others’ company.

WATCHPRO Awards is a well-established success, so its fifth outing in six years (we refused to do Awards over Zoom last year) was expected to go well. But the sheer joy on the faces of retail and brand executives gathering for a night of drama and excitement was delightful to behold.

The following morning, retailers headed over to The Londoner on Leicester Square to refuel and continue their conversations over a brunch laid on at WATCHPRO Salon.

Ninety minutes later, the press arrived for their own private tour of Salon, and in the afternoon (and long into the evening) we laid on champagne and canapes for hundreds of VIP guests.

By the end of WATCHPRO Salon’s first day, we knew we had created something special.

I have been to scores of trade shows over my 30 years in the media business and the default setting for exhibitors at trade or consumer shows is unhappiness.

Organisational cock-ups, under-delivering on expectations and the sheer drudgery of manning stands for a full day typically generates a fug.

The mood at WATCHPRO Salon could not have been more different. Exhibitors were having as much fun as the hundreds of visitors who spent hours browsing the incredible watches on display.

Retail accounts were opened, watches were sold to consumers and the press were hailing Salon as a format the world has been waiting for.

Don’t just take my word for it, head over to social media and you will see the positive vibes in posts and comments.

This is how irrational desire is generated, and I hope everybody who exhibited or visited felt that energy, which continued into the second day when the paying public came along (yes, they paid to browse and buy watches at WATCHPRO Salon).

For those with an eye for facts and figures. Here is how the three days of WATCHPRO Awards and Salon played out.

WATCHPRO Awards welcomed 242 VIP guests including teams from the biggest brands from Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin to Citizen and Seiko; and the most powerful retailers including Watches of Switzerland, Berry’s Mappin & Webb, Laings, Goldsmiths, Pragnell, Watchfinder, Xupes and Ernest Jones.

WATCHPRO Salon was organised into several phases within the overall two days and brought together 50 exhibiting brands and partners; 41 retailers; 56 journalists from the mainstream press; 27 influencers and bloggers; 152 VIP guests and 807 paying punters.

Over the three days, that is 1,375 people who came, saw and left uplifted.

Watch this space for announcements of future events in the UK.

Dates for WATCHPRO Salon and WATCHRPO Awards for 2022 will be shared soon, and do not rule out a global event launching in April to fill the void left by Baselworld.

We are ready to show the watch world how much can be achieved when everybody has a smile on their face.

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