A Look Back at Watches & Wonders 2018 – When Geneva Met Miami
Here’s a full rundown of the first-ever Watches & Wonders held on US soil including some of our favorite photos from the weekend.
I’ll be honest, we didn’t quite know what to expect from Watches & Wonders. Just a few weeks removed from SIHH, the FHH reconvened the press and brands (21 to be exact) in the Miami Design District for a weekend of horological exploration and discovery. Heading to Miami, we knew that regardless of the outcome, we were going to have a memorable time.
Watches & Wonders – Geneva to Miami
The Miami Design District opened in 2009, and for almost a decade since, has enjoyed a steady adoption of retailers and brand boutiques. Nestled in a beautiful arts district minutes away from downtown Miami, the district has constantly improved their product to appeal to residents and tourists alike.
By bringing Geneva to Miami for Watches & Wonders, the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie and exhibiting brands assembled a bevy of watch journalists, collectors, and enthusiasts to the unique Miami Design District designed by Duany Plater-Zyberk.
While SIHH is predominantly tailors to press and retailers, Watches & Wonders is a consumer facing show which gives attendees multi-day access to exhibiting brands. Typically, SIHH novelties only hit retailers on their official on sale dates. However, at Watches & Wonders, many (if not most) SIHH novelties were on display. This simple fact coupled with the exotic locale of Miami, truly positions Watches & Wonders as a complementary show to SIHH.
Watchonista out and about
On the Thursday night opening of Watches & Wonders, TAG Heuer hosted a bash to unveil their traveling US exhibition Museum in Motion. Which will make its way across the country for the remainder of 2018.
Throughout the weekend, we collaborated with Jaeger-LeCoultre on the first ever Instagram takeover of the brand. In addition, we captured some stunning Miami themed photos of the new Polaris Collection.
On Saturday afternoon, the Miami Design District Concours was held, which brought out some of the finest American and European supercars. Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Mclarens, and even a Pagani were positioned around the Design District. This unique showcase brought aficionados together to celebrate their passion of all things mechanical. The roar of the engines and tantalizing smell of autos was in the air.
From major brands to independents, Watches & Wonders presented some great watches. For example, we experienced again the Platinum F.P. Journe Chronographe Monopoussoir Rattrapante , the A. Lange & Söhne Triple Split, Ralph Lauren’s Automotive Skeleton, the stunning IWC Tribute to Pallweber, Bulgari’s Diva Finissima Minute Repeater, and much much more.
Something for everyone
At Friday night’s opening cocktail party, DJ Brendan Fallis (also a watch guy) electrified the packed house. The FHH pulled out all the stops for this evening, everything from circus performers on stilts to numerous brands hosting in-boutique experiences. The crowd had smiles on their faces and Miami themed cocktails in hand.
The morning after the opening night party, we knew that Watches & Wonders was something special. It was easy to see that the Design District and FHH effectively promoted this event. Back in the Design District, we saw more and more people exploring the various boutiques and pop-up shops.
The show was packed Morning, Noon, and Night. The good news? The people walking around were watch collectors, enthusiasts, residents, and people curious about Watches & Wonders. The good news? Many brands reported that they were doing good business during the weekend. The vibes seemed very positive and we hope the organizers will be able to continue this buzz and make the Design District a horological destination.
Importantly, Watches & Wonders reunited our watch family. Many of our friends in the publishing and collecting world were in attendance. We enjoyed mingling with fellow members of the press including; HODINKEE, WatchTime, Revolution, and more. With one quick glance around the show, you could spot luminaries such as; Jeff Stein, William Rohr, Eric Wind, and the one-and-only Adam Craniotes. Spending time amongst our peers reminded us of how small and great our industry is.
Watches & Wonders Analysis
After a very well-organized SIHH, and right before Baselworld, the FHH, Miami Design District, and exhibiting brands came together to produce Watches & Wonders. Similar to the posh surroundings of Geneva’s PALEXPO, Watches & Wonders is an upscale haute horology event that brings together the very best of the watch industry and shows ambition and commitment to moving the industry forward.
While many in attendance were optimistic about the outcome of the show, we simply had no baseline to compare it to. Sure, Watches & Wonders had previously held editions in Hong Kong, but the US market is an entirely different world. The FHH openly admitted that staging a massive showcase in the United States just weeks removed from SIHH was a challenge. It’s worth noting, without the generous participation of brands, this show couldn’t have happened.
Our impression? The show was positively alive! Everyone we spoke with felt an energy that they said was lacking prior to the show. Maybe it took an event like Watches & Wonders to get attendees out of their comfort zones and into a welcome and inviting space such as the Design District.
Watches & Wonders proved, yet again, that the ambitions and strengths of FHH give a strong message to Baselworld that Geneva is here to stay.
Watches & Wonders Photo Gallery
Throughout the weekend, our photographers were out in full force capture the very best of Watches & Wonders. Here’s some of our favorite photos.
The classic Field of Dreams quote “If you build it, they will come” applied to Watches & Wonders. The Miami Design District built the platform and the FHH and exhibiting brands effectively promoted what was truly a special experience. Will Watches & Wonders be back in 2019? We certainly hope so! If the impressive showcase returns next year, Watchonista will be there!
(Photography by Liam O’Donnell)