Wednesday, February 8, 2023

When the Circus (doesn't) Come to Town...

Word reached the North Shore offices (albeit delayed by lack of a press release) that the "Greatest Watch Show That Ever Was..."

Will now never be.
Courtesy of Netflix

The "Fair Formerly Known As Swiss Creative Lab" that had a stranglehold on first the Ramada, then the Hyperon of Basel came a cropper as collateral damage in the wake of BaselWorld's demise. But all was not lost watch fans! A plan was hatched to offer an outdoor event in August in Neuchatel. It would combine watches, pens, jewelry, art (live, performance, and otherwise), and God knows what else. It was to be known as IMAGINATON.

If I am very honest, the first proposed iteration resembled a plate of spaghetti tossed against the wall with the hope of benefiting from what "stuck". Unfortunately, exterior circumstances forced the organizers to cancel the fair and postpone for the next year. And the following year it was postponed again. Finally, 2023 was going to be THE YEAR! The stars had seemed to align, and the organizers were excited to share that IMAGINATION would take place the same week as Watches and Wonders. And that, gentle reader, is exactly why The IMAGINATION fair experienced a third consecutive "failure to launch"

A simple truth that is one no longer worth fighting - in the war of attrition that was the fight for hearts and minds at the spring Swiss watch fairs, BaselWorld quit the field leaving Watches and Wonders to stake their claim as the dominant show. Last year another pretender emerged - Time To Watches. If there was ever a watch fair with a worse name than IMAGINATION, this was probably it. When asked why a name that appeared so shambolic to native English speakers was chosen, the reply was that when you translated Time To Watches from English to German, it actually sounded cool. Which of course begs the question - why name it in English in the first place? This is why Wes Anderson should never be allowed to organize a watch fair. And without putting too fine a point on it, last year's Time To Watches show was a bit of a turd. Several "pro days" (press and retailers only), one or two days open to the public, and the press only really showing up for the last day, and writing, well, Jack-shit. And Jack had already left town...
At least one of the "big dogs" who availed themselves of the temporary kennel that was the inaugural Time to Watches has already sniffed out greener back yards and moved over to Watches and Wonders where they can pee in the tall weeds with the other "big dogs". So it will be curious to see who avails themselves of the watch show that sounds cool when translated to German. But they might need a better hook than that, and a famous (albeit inconveniently located) university with sub-optimal facilities for hosting a watch fair, or pretty much any trade fair.

For 2023, the definition of Haute Horology has magically expanded to include brands that never would have been deemed so in the good old days of the SIHH. But fear not! The snotty, exclusive, "don't even think of asking for a press invitation" spirit of the SIHH is alive and well with Watches and Wonders. Several media outlets who have been going to the event for YEARS and exhaustively covering the participating brands eagerly opened their Watches and Wonders emails only to find that they had been spurned and would not be receiving an invitation to cross the burning sands to the oasis of all things Haute and Naught. Essentially - "Thanks for your tireless coverage of us, now go get stuffed". Which was a cold cup of coffee even by SIHH/Watches and Wonders standards.

So get ready, we'll all be watching and wondering in a little over a month's time!

Until then, enjoy your watches.

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