With the Swatch Group conspicuous by its absence and only two brands from the Richemont Group (A. Lange & Söhne and Ralph Lauren Watches & Jewellery) making the trip to Paris, this year’s edition of the Salon Belles Montres at the Carrousel du Louvre offered a feast for those who appreciate the fine work of independent watchmakers from around the world.
The notable exception was the Kering Group, which came out in force in its “home” exhibition with all five of its brands exhibiting (Boucheron, Girard-Perregaux, Gucci, Jeanrichard and the recently acquired Ulysse Nardin).
Visitors had a rare chance, for example, to discover creations as diverse as those from Bovet and Claude Meylan, both brands attending their only show of the year outside Switzerland. For Philippe Belais, boss of Claude Meylan, the exhibition brought “a healthy mix of customers, retailers and retailers with their end customers, as well as the watchmakers of tomorrow” (alluding to the numerous students visiting on the opening day of the exhibition).
There were a few treats for the more horologically aware visitors, with a couple of brands presenting models that were either new or rarely seen in public. HYT brought its new H1 Quai du Mont-Blanc, which has been produced to celebrate the opening of its first retail outlet in Switzerland, Montres Prestige at the Hotel Kempinski in Geneva. The new watch will not be officially presented until 4 December.
Chopard had one of its L.U.C 1963 Chrono HW PuristS Editions on show. This is only the second public appearance by the watch (after SalonQP earlier this month) that was presented at BaselWorld this year but has since only been seen at private viewings. A rare chance, therefore, to admire the exquisite decoration through the sapphire case back. The watch was produced in a strictly limited edition of 50 specifically for the members of the long-running PuristS collector community but Chopard informed us that it may be made available to a few lucky individuals if the die-hard collectors do not snap up all 50 models.
Collectors also flocked in droves to the stand of new Geneva-based company Lepsi. An example of the booming market for accessories tailored to the needs of watch collectors, which ranges from traditional books to bespoke safes, watch cases and winders, Lepsi offers a new watch analyser that works with an iPad application. Replacing the more cumbersome and costly Witschi machines found on the watchmaker’s bench, the Lepsi Watch Analyser uses the same technology to record the accuracy of your mechanical watch, displaying mean daily variation in the usual positions but also allowing to record all the watches in your collection and track their performance over time.