What have you prepared for us at this SIHH 2014?
The 2014 edition is in line with previous years with the same line-up of exhibitors, but we are presenting a new hall layout. We have in particular redesigned the entrance to the Salon to facilitate access. We are also debuting a new partnership with the Geneva Public Transport services. They have provided us with a fleet of brand-new SIHH-branded buses that will run along bus lanes between the Salon and hotels, thus accelerating traffic. Finally, we also have larger dining areas and we have created two new restaurants so as to cater for more people at lunchtime.
What’s the theme of this year’s temporary exhibition?
The cultural division of the Fédération de la Haute Horlogerie is presenting a new exhibition titled “Horology, a daughter of astronomy”. It focuses on the moments in history when time measurement has been linked to the motion of the stars. We are presenting the inventions that have punctuated the transition from astronomy to horology through themed areas relating to the earth, the moon, the universe…
Will you still have a relaxation area?
This wasn’t our best-known service and the company that provided it was unable to be here this year. If we find it is missed, we will put it back on the programme.
Which brands are exhibiting?
The line-up has remained stable for two years now since the departure of Girard-Perregaux and Jean Richard. The Exhibitor Committee, which handles strategic decisions for the Salon and entrusts the FHH with organising it, wishes to maintain the range of exhibitors as it now is.
Will the Salon be seeing any redistribution of the allotted spaces?
While the allocation of the areas is defined, the various companies are free to make changes within their booths – and frequently avail themselves of this possibility. The aesthetic concept is designed to ensure that the setting provides a certain uniformity that enables each brand to express its originality – which is no easy task. In 2015, we will be unveiling a new look.
What attendance levels are you anticipating in 2014?
The figures are pretty stable from one year to the next. In 2013, we had 13,000 visitors and the increase is not expected to exceed 2.3%. Since this is a private exhibition by invitation only, there are few significant variations in attendance and in the number of retailers and journalists.
But are there less and less points of sale worldwide?
New ones are being opened daily in Asia, for example. But while the global reduction does indeed exist, it is compensated for by an increase in the staff of brand boutiques and by the individuals we refer to as guests. The latter term encompasses a growing number of well-known personalities, diplomats, politicians as well as VIP clients directly invited by the brands. The watchmaking houses wish to show their collections at a very early stage to certain clients, who are not necessarily the biggest collectors.
In 2013, the FHH organised a second watch exhibition, Watches & Wonders, in Hong Kong. Why was it not launched under the SIHH label?
Watches & Wonders is an initiative taken by the SIHH Exhibitor Committee, which wanted to create a new event intended for Asian final customers. That makes two major differences with the SIHH. These customers are curious about what we are doing, but it isn’t easy for them to get access to what lies behind the brands and their expertise. So we went to visit them on their home turf. But the SIHH is a trade fair for professionals, whereas Watches & Wonders is open to the public at large. In the former, retailers are the clients, and in the latter, it is a matter of partners inviting their own customers.
Could you share a few figures that sum up the Salon?
It is open for five consecutive days, spans a 30,000 sq.m. area and takes 23 days to set up. 9 days are required to dismantle it and around 600 to 700 workers from all kinds of professions are involved. Once dismantled, the Salon is stored in our warehouses where it occupies a full 10,000 sq.m., before being unpacked once again the following year.