The biggest impression left on WorldTempus by the Salon Internacional Alta Relojeria (SIAR), which took place last week at the St. Regis Hotel in Mexico City, was the great admiration that the Swiss brands attending the event had for the Mexican watch fans who came to the show to see their latest products.
As the organiser of the SIAR, Carlos Alonso, explains, “Mexico represents just one or two per cent of the world watch business. The difference is that there are a lot of connoisseurs among the public here. They are very sophisticated and they love high complications, which is why the brands love Mexico.”
Mr Alonso’s affirmation was validated by the presence of a number of CEOs at the show, which has always been an important date in the diary. “Over the past eight years we have welcomed a number of CEOs from the industry,” said Mr Alonso. “This year is a very commercial year so we have welcomed more sales directors than CEOs, but last year we welcomed 27 CEOs.”
Touch and feel
One important aspect of the show is the cooperation between the brands, their retailers and distributors and the watch fans and collectors who visit the show. And the sophistication of the latter should by no means be underestimated. Rumour has it, for example, that the world’s biggest collector of minute repeaters lives in this country of 140 million people.
These passionate watch lovers appreciate the chance to touch and feel the latest products, usually knowing exactly what they want. “Visitors come to our stand and ask specifically for the EMC,” explained Caroline Foulquier, Head of Sales of Urwerk. “People like to play with it and see it in action.” WorldTempus was no exception and when we tried out the EMC it was on its best behaviour. Even Mrs Foulquier was surprised when the delta indicated by the watch’s own in-house “mini Witschi” was a perfect zero.
Like the EMC by Urwerk, the Turbine models from Perrelet and the Magneto from Ball Watch also encouraged visitors to play with them, the former with its unique rotating blades (which, when they spin at a certain speed on the skeleton model, reveal the skeleton movement underneath) and the latter with its patented diaphragm mechanism to protect the watch from magnetic fields, which can be opened or closed by turning the bezel.
Chopard’s Gisela Navarro-Prina, Marketing and Public Relations Manager - Caribbean and Latin America, also picked up on the sensory aspects of a visit to the show. “The organisers invite people who travel and who are educated. They can touch and play with the watches.” But visitors to Chopard’s stand also had a chance to see the brand’s jewellery, which is not usually available in Mexico. According to Ms Navarro-Prina, Chopard’s pioneering use of Fairmined gold is also appreciated in the region. “It resonates well with the Mexican public and in the Latin America region, since the mine that the gold comes from is in Colombia and the issues evoked by fair mining are thus close to people’s hearts.”
Like most other watch exhibitions, the SIAR was rife with rumours. These ranged from the more speculative (for example, that there could soon be a regional offshoot of the SIHH in Miami to cater for the Latin America region) to the more concrete (and more sobering) claims that the Mexican market is experiencing double-digit losses, while the market in Spain is experiencing double-digit growth. If true, such claims would explain why the industry manages to maintain a “stable” growth rate overall, in spite of very difficult situations in certain markets.
In any case, the excellent reputation of the SIAR is bound to ensure a healthy future for the show, although the number of exhibitors is unlikely to increase significantly. “The feedback from the brands is that the SIAR needs to be more and more exclusive,” explains Carlos Alonso. “We have had small brands here in the past who have just exhibited for one year and tried to pick up the contacts with the collectors and deal with them directly from Switzerland. But we have to balance this with the presence of big brands such as Cartier and Vacheron Constantin. We have now found a middle ground with around 30 exhibiting brands. I think this is a good number and our idea is to invite just two or three new exhibitors every year.