Two of the hottest contemporary watchmakers working today are heading to London, giving the trade, media and public a rare opportunity to meet the men and see their highly prized timepieces.
Laurent Ferrier and Kari Voutilainen have become the latest watchmakers to confirm their appearance at this year’s WatchPro Salon.
The prestigious watch show takes place at The Londoner, a brand new 5-star hotel on Leicester Square, from November 12 to 13.
If the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) awards are the watch industry’s Oscars, Kari Voutilainen is our Daniel Day-Lewis — a serial winner with seven gongs in under 10 years and the equivalent of a method actor who immerses himself in every facet of his art.
Laurent Ferrier is not far behind with three GPHG trophies since the eponymous maison was formed in 2009.
London used to have Marcus, owned by Marcus Margules, but the Bond Street boutique closed a few years ago and Mr Margules now trades in the rarest of art and other collectibles from a £100 million townhouse in Mayfair.
The city also recently lost William & Son, an ultra-high-end department store with a watch department carrying brands like Laurent Ferrier, F. P. Journe, Moritz Grossmann, H. Moser & Cie, Romain Gauthier, De Bethune, Ferdinand Berthoud, and Ludovic Ballouard. William & Son called in the administrators in the summer of last year.
The void left by the loss of Marcus and William & Son might have be filled by Art in Time, a Monaco-based boutique, part owned by Chopard, that carries independents including Ferdinand Berthoud, Chopard, Greubel Forsey, H.Moser & Cie, L’Epée, MB&F, Ressence, Florian Schlumpf, and Urwerk. But the pandemic and changes to the way sales tax is charged in the UK put them off an opening that was planned for last year has been postponed indefinitely.
This makes November’s WatchPro Salon a unique opportunity to see watches — made in very small quantities — that have been dramatically rising in popularity in recent years, with prices tracking north at auctions and the secondary market in response.
In our special report into independent watchmakers earlier this year, we reported the dramatic rise in demand for living watchmakers producing very low runs of exquisitely crafted timepieces.
The pandemic year has proved to be an opportunity for the likes of Laurent Ferrier and Kari Voutilainen. With Watches and Wonders and Baselworld cancelled, and all promotions moving online, the playing field was somewhat levelled for the biggest and most artisan producers.
Independents making a handful of watches per month took to the internet, messaging and social media to speak one-to-one with collectors around the world, making the purchase of their watches even more special.
Kari Voutilainen told WatchPro that: “Last year was a very good year for us,” without elaborating.
Laurent Ferrier and Kari Voutilainen join a growing list of prestigious watch brands that have confirmed they will exhibit at WatchPro Salon; many of them rarely seen in the UK.
Grand Seiko, Parmigiani Fleurier, Doxa, Bonhams, Schofield, WOLF, the British Horological Institute, Tribus, Michel Herbelin, William Wood, Junghans, Christopher Ward, Zeitwinkel, Swiss Kubik, Scatola Del Tempo and Michel Perchin are all booked to participate in the November 12 to 13 event.
WatchPro Salon opens the day after the prestigious WatchPro Awards on November 11, the biggest event in the UK watch industry’s calendar.
Leaders from every major retailer regularly attend — from the likes of Watches of Switzerland Group, Signet, Bucherer, Laings, Beaverbrooks, Berry’s, Preston’s, David M Robinson, Chisholm Hunter, and many more — and these executives, along with members of the press, will be invited to a brunch at WatchPro Salon’s opening day before being given a VIP tour of the exhibition.
“We are honoured by the support shown by so many prestigious watchmakers that want to show their watches to the thriving British collectors community,” says WatchPro co-founder Rob Corder.
“We know collectors are desperate to get up close and personal with new watches from these makers, having been starved of the chance to see them since 2019. Retailers and the media are also itching to study such a broad spectrum of brands in one place,” adds WatchPro Salon event director Lucy Cheesewright.
WatchPro Salon takes place from November 12 to 13 at The Londoner hotel in Leicester Square. Tickets will go on sale this summer. Brands that would like to know more about how to participate should contact Lucy Cheesewright at firstname.lastname@example.org.