EPHJ 2019 - A Breeding Ground For Innovation In Watchmaking
Although most of the marketing speeches of watch brands are that "everything is done in-house," watchmaking is above all a world of co-contracting. An entire network of companies offers a plethora of skills to carry out a countless number of diverse and varied projects. The EPHJ is the show that connects supply and demand.
In watchmaking, we talk a lot about heritage, traditions, and beautiful stories from the past. These are very important pillars. They are vectors of emotion, essential to the existence of this industry. But, we must not forget that this is an industry and that, as such, the other pillars of growth lie in technological progress, questioning ourselves, and research & development. For all players - excluding major brands with unlimited funds - it is important to have an annual meeting to meet, exchange ideas, and progress together. The EPHJ (which is the shorthand for the Professional Watchmaking and Jewelry Environment trade show) has been this platform for 18 years.
An unmissable event
This year, the number of exhibitors, 820, is up by 4%, but it is the exhibition area that has seen the biggest increase. Companies come together to create a larger, more competitive and more efficient competency clusters ... that would require a bigger area at the show. It's healthy and effective. We, therefore, find the big names in subcontracting such as Dubois-Dépraz or Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier. It is interesting to see that these two houses highlight their products "Ready to use," yet fully customizable.
Whether it's VMF's "Open R & D" or Dubois-Dépraz's "custom-made developments," the idea is to offer a global service to end customers. These may be big brands looking for specific modules or templates - but "Hush! Everything is done in-house.” Independents wanting to take advantage of the proven reliability of the offers to create proprietary templates or dreamers wanting to see if their latest great idea has a chance to see the light ... or at least a single model. The opportunities are vast ranging from one unit to several million for components, as TEC Ebauches claims at its booth. Everyone is benefiting.
Attendance is looking up
And the increased attendance shows that people are curious. Increasingly, people are attending from abroad, as now 18 countries are represented. They are also younger, which is an excellent sign that there is an ever-greater international openness to the influence of watchmaking and it’s proof that the younger generation of entrepreneurs is also interested in this venerable industry.
Industry professionals come to discover the latest automated machines that will equip the manufactures of tomorrow, the new materials that will adorn the wrists of the future, and the new techniques of decorations or 3D production. It is an effervescent atmosphere, where the passion of the speakers is felt at each booth. Many exhibitors have also recognized a new phenomenon recently: the presence of an increasing number of collectors or watch lovers. They are looking for tomorrow's trends and new technologies that will sharpen their love of watchmaking even more.
The world of watchmaking is one of micro-precision. It is therefore natural that the show is spreading more towards micro- and medical technologies. This year, more than 40% of exhibitors are now turning to medical tech and these exhibitors are pushing the limits of possible applications for all these intertwined skills. This trend is perhaps best exemplified by the winner of this year's Grand Prix of Exhibitors, FEMTOPrint.
A relatively new microtechnology company from Ticino, Switzerland, FEMTOPrint was awarded the Grand Prix of Exhibitors 2019 for its Safe Puncture Optimized Tool (SPOT), a medical tool designed to treat retinal vein occlusion by injecting a clot-dissolving medication without harming tissue. With the potential to help the 16 million people worldwide with retinal vein occlusion, SPOT is a true synthesis of the high precision worlds of drilling, microfluidic diffusion, and mechanical actuation. With exhibitors like FEMTOPrint, it is no wonder why the acronym EPHJ - EPMT - SMT was simplified, becoming EPHJ, The World of High Precision.
It is this mix of interests, ideas and cultures that form the basis of the future. It is this diversification and openness that are shaping the development axes of tomorrow. The love of the past and watchmaking traditions meets the best of micro-technology at EPHJ to ensure its future.