How did the selection process take place for the brands that were approached?
Within the framework of its mission to promote technical and precious Fine Watchmaking technique across the world, and as the organiser of the SIHH, the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie made a suggestion to the SIHH Exhibitor Committee to open the 2016 edition to other brands within the Fine Watchmaking perimeter.
The list of new brands approached was drawn up by the Foundation’s Cultural Council, according to different quality criteria, and then put to the fair’s Exhibitors’ Committee which gave its opinion on each one. For the first time, the SIHH will include the “Carré des Horlogers”, a new space devoted to nine independent workshops and creators representative of “New Watchmaking”.

Did some of them turn down the offer?
No, none of them. All those we contacted accepted.

Why is François-Paul Journe for example not amongst them?
For this first edition of the “Carré des Horlogers”, the idea was to focus on watchmaking workshops and creators “in the making” within the perimeter of technical and precious Fine Watchmaking. The fact remains that other more established brands would also have been equally at home in this new space.

Are any brands other than Ralph Lauren withdrawing?
No, that’s the only one. As regards Ralph Lauren Watches & Jewelry, this decision relates to their distribution strategy that now consists of focusing on the United States where their parent company is located.

Aside from the financial aspect, what do these small independent brands bring to the SIHH?
First and foremost, it’s an important step in the history and development of the SIHH. We are moving from 16 to 24 exhibiting Maisons in one single edition. That’s quite a leap! We have wanted to introduce this extension to new stakeholders for a long time.

Montblanc SIHH 2015

Montblanc's booth, at the SIHH 2015. © WorldTempus / Michèle Brunner

 By bringing them in, the show is broadening its horizons by presenting other complementary approaches that combine perfectly with those of the Maisons that have already been exhibiting for many years. Over the successive editions, the SIHH has made a name for itself as a benchmark professional event and it owes this stature to these Maisons. Some are centuries-old, while others are barely reaching adulthood, but each one has in its own way contributed to the vision of technical and precious watchmaking that has forged the success of the SIHH – and can only be reinforced by the arrival of new creators. Moreover, it is essential to ensure constant development, as well as adapting to the market and its expectations so as to ensure the continued prosperity of the SIHH.

Do you envision other brands joining in 2017 or 2018?
Definitely. We are discussing options with a number of brands within the Fine Watchmaking that are not yet part of the show. But as I said before, it’s the SIHH Exhibitor Committee that makes the final decision regarding all new candidates. If one looks at the history of the SIHH, which has just celebrated its 25th anniversary, it has been based on the development of brands and the history of the mergers and acquisitions by the major watchmaking groups. So yes, our options are open and every edition may witness the arrival of new elements…