Industry News: Watches & Wonders Announces A Fully Digital Watch Fair Coming April 25th
Adapting to the global health situation, Watches & Wonders Launches the watch world’s first digital fair with streamed releases, in-depth analysis, and more.
Everything is online nowadays, from meetings to university classes, birthday parties, and even nightclubs. And the watch world, a microcosm of the world at large, is following suit. Beginning April 25th, Watches & Wonders (formerly known as SIHH) is launching the first digital version of their watch fair.
A Timely Decision
Making the best of the current global situation, the platform is designed to give enthusiasts, retailers, and journalists direct access to leading watch brands, even during times of widespread self-isolation and social distancing.
“We are thrilled to be partnering with the finest watchmaking brands in the world to bring the Watches & Wonders concept to life online at a time when our industry needs it the most,” states Fabienne Lupo, Chairwoman and Managing Director of the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie. “This dynamic new platform will allow watch lovers everywhere to discover exciting new products, engage in enriching experiences, and connect directly with our participating brands in one place.”
The New Fair for the New Normal
This pivot from physical to digital fair has the FHH acting more like a media outlet than an event planner. Included in the online platform are new watch releases, of course, as well as dedicated pages for each brand, real-time social media updates, and business-focused discussions with industry leaders.
For new releases, brands will be creating 10-minute video streams to debut their latest watches, the format of which seem to be designed to, on some level, mimic the MacWorld keynote presentations formats made famous by Steve Jobs during the golden era of Apple. FHH’s Cultural Council is also working with participating brands and opinion leaders to create additional educational experiences, including trend forecasts, product analyses, and in-depth explorations of design, artistry, and craft. The finer details of these programs have yet to be announced, so we’ll be staying tuned to see how this inaugural digital fair develops and takes shape.
A Platform for Brands Large and Small
Among the 30 brands participating in the upcoming Watches & Wonders, Richemont commands a large footprint with A. Lange & Söhne, Cartier, IWC, Roger Dubuis, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Piaget, Montblanc, Panerai, Baume & Mercier, and Vacheron Constantin all participating. We’ll also see new releases from Kering Group brands Girard-Perregaux and Ulysse Nardin as well as high horology independents such as MB&F, Ressence, Grönefeld, Armin Strom, and Laurent Ferrier.
There is also one other extremely important point worth noting. By transitioning to a digital platform, as opposed to postponing altogether, FHH is providing some much-needed solace to smaller watch brands who rely on these large, annual shows for crucial exposure and brand awareness. Without such fairs, digital or otherwise, boutique brands would have a considerably tougher time capturing the attention of enthusiasts, journalists, and retailers alike.
April and Beyond
FHH is also looking far beyond the fair schedule of late April and preparing a second phase of Watches & Wonders for later this summer. In the second phase, W&W will continue to publish additional rounds of new releases and announce strategic e-commerce partnerships with select brands. Like other aspects of phase one, details of part two remain to be seen, but we’ll be curious to see if these partnerships form along parent company lines (Richemont, Kering, etc.) or not.
Luckily, we won’t have to wait until April 25th to have our burning questions answered. On Tuesday, April 21st, Watchonista is speaking one-on-one with FHH Chairwoman and Managing Director Fabienne Lupo herself during our HOMEtime Live series on Instagram! We’ll get the inside scoop on what to look forward to as the fair kicks off, what went into the decision to go digital, what phase two will look like, and more, much more.
We’ll also be taking questions from the audience, so head over to Watchonista’s Instagram channel or tune in on April 21 (12:00 EST, 18:00 CET) for a chance to have your question answered during the live stream.