The emphasis at this year’s edition of the TimeCrafters exhibition, which was once again held in the Drill Hall of the historic Park Avenue Armory in the heart of Manhattan, was clearly on the “craft”. Chopard, for example, chose to exhibit only its haute horlogerie pieces, while TAG Heuer showcased only its gents’ collection and high-tech pieces such as the V4 Tourbillon presented at BaselWorld earlier this year.
Christophe Claret, famed for its casino-gamed inspired timepieces and high-end chiming complications, made its debut at the show with its new complication for ladies, the Margot, which features a mechanical interpretation of the “he loves me, he loves me not” game.
“It’s a chance for us to meet collectors,” said Wolfgang Sickenberg, Chief Operating Officer, Christophe Claret. “There is a well-known and knowledgeable public here. It is also a chance for us to show retailers that we are committed to developing the market.”
Richard Mille was one of the few other brands at the show to present high-end pieces for ladies and the brand’s Marketing Director, Tim Malachard, stressed the importance of being able to show the timepieces to the general public at the show. “TimeCrafters became interesting for us as soon as we knew that other high-end brands were participating, especially given our price point,” he told WorldTempus. “Some of our retailers have two stores in New York, so it’s also important for us to be able to meet with them.”
De Bethune was not necessarily present at the show to sell watches, according to CEO Pierre Jacques, although the fact that it was the brand’s second time at the show suggests that exhibiting there is worthwhile. “It’s an excellent opportunity to show our timepieces to a New York public,” he said. “I think people come here with fewer inhibitions and they can see the watches that we have launched during the year. This may not necessarily translate into sales tomorrow but it helps us to support our partners here.”
It was perhaps more important for one brand than any other to be able to present its products directly to the public. The “hydro-mechanical horologists” at HYT made their first appearance at the show with their unique way of displaying the time using coloured liquid moving around the circumference of the dial in place of an hour hand.
HYT’s CEO Vincent Perriard attended the show in person to explain this intriguing technology. “We have a different rationale for attending the show than other brands,” he explained, “since we are in our first real twelve-month business cycle. Now that we have the production we can start to open doors. But the exercise here is more about communication. It’s about explaining the watch and being in touch with watch fans.”
“We already did QP in London last year and Belles Montres in Paris and each time we notice that we get a lot of feedback. You don’t really sell on the spot but it creates noise around the brands and then after a couple of weeks you start to notice the sales. So it does have a positive impact on the sales and there is a correlation between the show and sales. We see it.”
Speaking on behalf of the organisers, Eric Dumatin confirmed the general upbeat mood among the exhibitors. “The most important thing is the feedback from the brands,” he said. “Taking two brands at random, Audemars Piguet and A. Lange & Söhne have both had excellent feedback, especially from Saturday.”
“They have both sold a lot of watches, taking orders or reservations from customers and directing them to the stores. There has been a big increase in this respect compared with last year.
“Our aim is to present high-end watchmaking to the general public, not just to collectors and people who are already familiar with it. We will develop the concept and continue to work with our media partners to spread the word about fine watchmaking.”
TimeCrafters has established itself as an important event for brands and watch fans alike in only a few short years and will be back at the iconic Park Avenue Armory location next year.