Watches & Wonders 2015: ticking on Hong Kong time
The charm of the Watches & Wonders show lies in discovering special watches and the wealth of encounters .... the last day was no different from the others.Screening the show !
During this final stretch at the other side of the world – and before ceding the space at the fair to the regular aficionados, who were graciously invited to the event – there were still a number of important people to meet, notably Carole Forestier from Cartier and Nicolas Bos from Van Cleef & Arpels. And there were also a number of watches to be discovered, at Richard Mille, for instance, and at Vacheron Constantin and Montblanc.
The first meeting of the morning was with the president and CEO of Van Cleef & Arpels. Nicolas Bos was full of confidence in his products and proud of the growth in company sales figures as he showed me the timepieces launched during the fair. He was careful to preview his remarks by pointing out that the pieces offered were not designed to respond to the requirements of a specific market. Van Cleef & Arpels does not really aim to design regional products. The goal of this company, which is stationed on Place Vendôme in Paris, is to demonstrate its expertise in the area of métiers d'arts, the art crafts. But, he was willing to admit, not of any craft, because the some brands in that particular field demonstrate the kind of eagerness that can result in a depreciation of the métiers d'art themselves. Asked which piece in the collections he found the most attractive, Nicolas Bos responded that he thinks the birds in relief with real feathers on a backdrop of hard stones had some genuinely wild charm and something profoundly captivating, but if he had to point to a single watch for the Asian market, it would definitely be the Cadenas, which was relaunched this year after a long absence from the market.
At A. Lange & Söhne, the executives had made a clear choice. They were proud to present the Zeitwerk minute repeater, but selected a simpler model, one that is emblematic of the brand's know-how:the Lange 1815 "200th Anniversary F. A. Lange. "It is an elegant piece with a sober and balanced design, driven by a manually wound movement and produced in a limited edition of only 200 pieces. It was given a case in honey-colored gold, a special 18-karat alloy that not only produces a soft tone, but is also more scratch-resistant than ordinary gold. Another classic is the "Cornes de Vaches" chronograph (it means "Cow Horns") first produced in 1955 and revived as part of the historic collection by Vacheron Constantin to celebrate in Hong Kong and in its own way the company's 260th anniversary.
The schedule also included touching base with watchmaking according to Cartier, by way of an interview with Carole Forestier-Kasapi, the Director of Grand Complications Creation at Cartier in La-Chaux-de-Fonds. This woman, to whom Cartier owes its entry into a new era of haute horlogerie, discussed the pieces presented to the professionals of the industry and highlighted the Clé de Cartier Mystérieuse. This particular choice, a mature piece of which she is proud, allowed her to refocus a complication very dear to Cartier ever since the days of Louis Cartier inside a case whose forms, we believe, have a promising future ahead. The team working with this ingenious creator managed to combine cohesion and miniaturization with a feeling for modernity in such a way that the mechanism will surely find its way to posterity.
This all shows how watchmaking could be experienced in all transparency. What remained to be seen was the craft's crazier sides. Obviously, this meant visiting Richard Mille. One must say: that young ladies at the booth already suggested which way the wind was blowing . . . they wore naughty garters on a feathered dress split to the hip, which inevitably turned heads and drew people onto the booth who may not even have been seeking a rare mechanical pearl. With their spirits somewhat discombobulated by such delightful visions, all that remained was to discover the RM 69 Erotique. This model, featuring a tourbillon, was presented in a barroom setting, where it was a little on the hot side. It has what it takes to turn heads. It is not an erotic instrument in the traditional sense of the word (there are no little automatons or evocative scenes), yet it offers any man with the means – and a certain amount of gall – a way to make a request to a person susceptible of being tempted by a bit of the other. However, the watch does not show an erotic scene when the pusher at 10 o'clock is depressed, but rather a text that could spark some desire in the man or woman who reads it. And to avoid leaving any ambiguity as to the message, the hands can be hidden, making it a lot easier to read the text and hence increase the wearer's chance to complete the transaction…