Its showtime as SIHH 2010 opens the curtains on a truly spectacular watch show. However, this year the SIHH feels like a stroll through shop lined piazzas baring exquisite facades and elegant display windows. The feel is a far cry from the usual large exhibition hall dotted with booths. Geneva is the perfect place to relay the atmosphere of elegant shopping, something hard to accomplish in Basel. SIHH is invitation only where high end collectors, buyers, media personnel and select others view the newest collections from 19 different companies.
SIHH is still very much a Richemont affair with 12 of the 19 brands taking part in the show is owned by Richement. These are A. Lange & Sohne, Alfred Dunhill, Baume & Mercier, Cartier, IWC, Jaeger LeCoultre, Montblanc,Panerai, Piaget, Roger Dubois, Vacheron Constantin & Van Cleef & Arpels as well as the joint venture between Richemont and Ralph Lauren.
The other 5 luxury brands are Audemars Piguet, JeanRichard, Girard Perregaux, Parmigiani, Greubel Forsey and Richard Mille.
SIHH is critical for the watch industry especially for Richemont. Top retailers place orders and Richemont ,as well as other companies, can get a feel in regard to the watch climate of the coming year. It stands to reason given the global recession, watch retailers will be a bit more conservative in their spending this year. In addition, there will be no huge birthday bash for the 20th anniversary of SIHH. Still the "show must go on" and what a show it is.
Watch companies have produced some remarkable pieces, many taking advantage of the advancement in metallurgy and interesting combination of materials such as Audemars Piguet Millenary Carbon One Tourbillon Chronograph crafted from forged carbon (case), ceramic (bezel, crown, pushers) and blackened steel. This year thin is in with Piaget, Vacheron Constantin and Ralph Lauren all opting for the ultra slim.
Many brands are reviving old models spruced up for today's competitive market - Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox first unveiled in the 1950's is now equipped with a Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 956, large variable inertia balance and a rotor mounted on ceramic ball bearings reducing the need for lubrication and maintenance.
The SIHH sets the standard for the World of Horology in 2010 and after seeing these exquisite collections, I must say, the standard is high. Very high.