The 23rd annual spring concours was moved, at the last minute, from Sunday to Saturday, because of weather. That didn’t hinder turnout, as more than 300 vehicles rolled onto the Golf Club of Amelia Island fairways. Best of Show honors went to a 1963 Ferrari 250/275P and 1929 Duesenberg J/SJ Convertible, while Rolex awarded its Timeless Elegance trophy to a 1962 Jaguar E-Type. Other highlights included an expert panel discussion on electric vehicles, led by Jaguar designer Ian Callum; the RM Sotheby’s auction, where a 1993 Porsche 911 Carrera RS sold for $1.65M, smashing the previous record for that model and vintage; and a black-tie gala at the Ritz-Carlton, hosted by Mercedes-Benz.
For decades, the watch industry calendar has revolved around two events, both held in Switzerland: the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie, in January, and Baselworld, in March. That all changed over Presidents Day weekend, when the inaugural Watches & Wonders Miami transformed South Florida into a horological mecca.
The event, a joint venture between the Fondation Haute Horlogerie and Miami Design District Associates, emphasized a party-like atmosphere and social media sharing. W&W Miami offered the general public unprecedented access to more than 20 premium watch brands including Bulgari, Hublot, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Parmigiani Fleurier, Tag Heuer, and Van Cleef & Arpels.
Some of them showed recent collections, museum pieces, and one-of-a-kind creations; others trotted out world premiers and top execs. Master watchmakers held classes; Buckminster Fuller’s “Fly’s Eye Dome” and other art installations, as well as a rolling street party, added an element of pageantry. Wristwatch aficionados and collectors descended in droves.
Notable guests included musician Brendan Fallis, actor and model Eric Rutherford, art collector Craig Robins, author Aaron Sigmond, and style bloggers Marcel Floruss and Lainy Hedaya.
How the high-fashion brand Hermès stole this year’s first show in Geneva.
At Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie, the watches are only part of the celebration. There’s the people, the vibe, the scenery—and, of course, the displays. Watch companies go bonkers at the annual trade show, wheeling in ornate props and jumbo signage, effectively staging grandiose pop-ups inside Palexpo Center in Geneva. Hermès, which made its SIHH debut this year, has clearly been taking notes. The brand didn’t just show up. It made a scene. Literally.
Credit goes to RDAI, the Paris-based architecture studio that created a custom atrium for Hermès at the show. Also to Levi van Veluw, the award-winning Dutch artist who designed the installations inside. Van Veluw, 33, is known for his layered wood carvings, intricate and geometric compositions that often incorporate beads and filigree and colorfully painted elements. He previously collaborated with Hermès on a series of acclaimed window displays, installed at boutiques in Shanghai and New York, in 2014 and 2016, respectively.
But working within the confines of a trade event, and RDAI’s atrium, meant rethinking the approach yet again—something that became apparent to van Veluw during the early sketching phase and that informed the final product.
“I discovered the idea of making a fragmented sculpture through the limitations of drawing a perfect cube, which eventually became part of the [SIHH] installation’s overall concept,” van Veluw says. “The shapes are still symmetrical, but the way they form the overall sculpture is totally random and asymmetrical. It has something playful to it that naturally occurs when making a drawing.”
The resulting chamber-like centerpiece, called “The Alchemist,” was a standout at Palexpo. It featured a blocky, canary-colored exterior, with an explosion of blue-lacquered wood flotsam inside.
“It highlights the paradox of something complex that looks easy,” van Veluw says. “The inside is not a watchmaker’s atelier. It is instead chaos. Watchmaking gives the image of an industry that seeks perfection, where everything is always clean-cut. But I believe that no great idea, no strong innovation, arises from perfection. I instead think that chaos is key. And chaos is what I wanted to express inside. Like the mind of the watchmaker, full of ideas.”
SIHH showgoers were invited to step into the chamber, the bottom of which was transparent; you were actually stepping onto glass placed above the floor, giving the impression of floating. The new Hermès Carré H wristwatches were displayed in various stages of assembly.
“I put them in the center, as if they were the beating heart of the mechanism,” says Van Veluw. “Your gaze is drawn toward the watches thanks to the use of fascinating shapes like spirals.”
Nine original van Veluw window displays surrounded “The Alchemist,” rounding out the French fashion house’s watershed exhibition area.
“I wanted [the display] to be in harmony with the pavilion’s architecture, so it would not be aggressive” he explains. “I prefer people to be drawn by my art, rather than driven away by something impressive and arrogant.”
Panerai devotees flock to the Windy City for a three-day extravaganza.
By Adam Craniotes
To understand P-Day, first you have to understand the almost mystical hold that Panerai has over its fans. Given its origins as a dedicated military supplier to the Royal Italian Navy, coupled with the fact that prior to its resurgence in the early ’90s, Panerai had produced only around 300 watches, this was hardly a guaranteed thing. In fact, before 1993, pretty much no one had heard of the quirky Florentine watchmaker, who traveled thousands of miles once a year to hobnob with fellow fans of these bold, oversize watches.
So what happened?
The year was 1995, and Sylvester Stallone was in Rome shooting the action film Daylight. While scanning the local jewelers, the actor came across a giant stainless-steel watch, the likes of which he’d never seen before. The watch was a Panerai, and while 44mm might not seem unusually large in today’s market, back then it was an anomaly. Stallone decided on the spot that the watch could be a star itself, and promptly bought the entire stock to bring back to the States to give his friends. Of course, he kept one for himself as well. The Panerai Luminor Marina Submersible ended up being featured prominently in the film, thus earning the nickname “Daylight.”
But it wasn’t Stallone’s star power alone that developed Panerai’s cult following. In 2000, an English watch collector by the name of Guy Verbist took it upon himself to create paneristi.com, a website for Panerai enthusiasts. Back then, the World Wide Web was in toddlerhood, and widespread high-speed DSL connections, WiFi and smartphones were still far off in the future, to say nothing of social media (Instagram, who?). And yet, Verbist helped build a thriving online community dedicated to the brand.
Which brings us to P-Day.
Since 2000, the Paneristi (as the fans call themselves) have come together once a year, each time in a different city, to celebrate the brand that’s become, as they put it, “more than just a watch.” While Officine Panerai (which is owned by Richemont) is involved to a degree, P-Day is always a balancing act of the official and the unofficial. Company representatives will usually set up vitrines of timepieces and, in the past, they have created limited editions timed to the occasion, but the company does not actually organize or subsidize the event. And it is this that makes P-Day such a unique experience.
This past October—only the third time that P-Day has taken place in North America—the event was held over a weekend in Chicago. Yes, “weekend.” P-Day is a three-day event. Local volunteers handled all the logistics, which included the planning of the daily activities, dinners and venues. This year, Chicagoan Raphael Shin led an A-team of Panerai diehards, including Peter Fruehling, David Press, Craig Faulkner, Mikki Conway, and Paddy Conway, who did everything from building the weekend’s dedicated website to arranging seating at the Saturday night gala.
For those who were unable to attend P-Day 2017, allow us to present the highlights…
Thursday, Oct. 19
The unofficial kickoff was a cocktail party cohosted by local jeweler Marshall Pierce & Co., and Red Bar Chicago at the heliport Vertiport. There were helicopter tours of Chicago, displays of luxury cars and, naturally, a slew of handsome watches on the wrists of the Paneristi.
Friday, Oct. 20
Steven Taffel, owner of the city’s famed men’s footwear boutique Leffot, hosted an event at his store, located in the historic Monadnock building in Chicago’s South Loop. (A watch geek, Taffel even sells vintage watches from his company’s official website.) As with cars and pens, shoes seem to go hand-in-hand (or is it “foot-in-foot”?) with watch collecting, so the gathering was a perfect fit.
Next came a whiskey tasting at the atelier of Chicago-based watch brand Oak & Oscar, hosted by brand founder Chase Fancher. Then it was time to split up into small groups for dinner, each hosted by a noted ‘risti, at local restaurants including RPM Steak, Maple & Ash, Barrio, and Topolobampo. The most energetic met up afterward at a local supper club for more drinks and music before calling it a night.
Saturday, Oct. 21
The unseasonably warm weather was ideal for the day’s watch walk. Led by the irrepressible Dave Press, the group visited Marshall Pierce & Co., Swiss Fine Timing and Geneva Seal, among other famed Chicago watch shops. (They also dropped by Bentley Gold Coast for another dose of supercars.) The afternoon was bookended with lunch at Epic Burger.
Of course, this was all a prelude to the evening’s gala, at the Chicago Cultural Center. There, Preston Bradley Hall was filled with over 160 ‘ristis from around the world. A warm keynote speech from Panerai’s youthful North American President Giovanni Carestia was followed by performances by local guitarist Andreas Kapsalis and country-western singer Brian Hughes. A roast/awards ceremony followed, acknowledging not only the accomplishments of the P-Day volunteers but also the winner of the group’s “Asshat of the Year” award. (An example of why it’s better for Panerai to stay officially uninvolved with P-Day.)
The group made their way back to the Palmer House hotel for an afterparty that lingered into the wee hours of the night. For many, this is the real main event, when old friends can trade war stories, and everyone can kick their feet up and reminisce. P-Day Chicago coordinator Raphael Shin was duly fêted for pulling off the 16th-annual P-Day in the fine, irreverent style to which everyone has grown accustomed.
Paneristi Germany brings warm wishes. (Photo: L.A. Toy)
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Ah, but what of the 17th-annual P-Day?
We would be remiss if we didn’t report that at the end of the dinner, per custom, next year’s host city was announced: Hong Kong.
Needless to say, the planning has already begun.
See you there.
Hublot’s Innovative Materials and Horological Excellence Get Celebrated in New York City.
On December 13th, the “World Tour” of Hublot’s Art of Fusion stopped off in New York City to celebrate with Surface Media an evening of style, watches, and fun. The Art of Fusion, the essential element that lies at the heart of Hublot, pairs watchmaking traditions with an avant-garde sensibility to extend the philosophy of the brand with groundbreaking materials and technology. Various novelties were on display, from the innovative Magic Gold and the imaginative use of transparent sapphire crystal to hyper-modern masterpieces from the MP Collection.
The December issue of Watch Journal investigates the idea of Art of Fusion further in an interview with Ricardo Guadalupe, CEO of Hublot. He explains, “Just like watchmakers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; we will use classic materials such as gold for the case or brass for the movement—however, we combine them with other materials like titanium, ceramic, carbon fiber, Kevlar, even rubber. And we don’t stop there, because we also develop our own new materials. As a motto, the “Art of Fusion” refers not only to the materials themselves but also encompasses more abstract ideas: the fusion of past and present, tradition, and innovation.”