Salon QP move proves success as brands book 2012

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Move to Saatchi Gallery triples visitor numbers to London watch show.

Salon QP succeded in more than tripling its visitor numbers as the consumer watch show made the bold move to a larger and better located venue at the Saatchi Gallery in London.

The three-day consumer watch event welcomed more than 5,000 visitors, an impressive increase on 2010’s which attracted 1,600. Salon QP sales and marketing assistant Tallulah Quatre believes the change in venue was responsible for the uplift. She said: “The venue was new and much bigger and its location is exceptional. The number of brands that exhibited has increased from 31 in 2010 to 42 this year.”

The show had added extra activities and features, including an Independent Gallery, which was a first in its short history. Salon QP also welcomed a number of brands that had not participated in the show before as well as others that were returning exhibitors, such as Piaget, Harry Winston, Bulgari, Corum, Hermes, Manufacture Royale and Baume & Mercier.

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A number of brands have already confirmed participation in next year’s event and Quatre said the show has additionally been showered with requests from brands that are yet to participate but are looking to find out more information about the event.

For the brands and independents that showed this year the mood was positive and, when talking about progression this year and into 2012, the theme of worldwide growth was a recurring one.

Speaking with WatchPro during the show, Bell & Ross sales director Fabien de Nonancourt said that the company has enjoyed good growth in the UK while it was expanding “everywhere”, with doors due to open in Dubai, Paris, a second store in Hong Kong and four further standalones scheduled for Asia, including at Macau and Kuala Lumpur.

Bell & Ross showcased its new collection at Salon QP including its WW1 timepiece, called the WW1 to represent both World War One and its branding as Wrist Watch 1. The timepiece’s contrasting natural calfskin straps and gunmetal-hued case were chosen as colours that represent war-time uniforms and the colour of the dials on fighter planes.

Maitre du Temps chief executive Steven Holtzman, who was visiting the UK from his US base, discussed the company’s development as a champion of watchmakers with WatchPro. He has taken the watchmakers on a world tour, allowing them to meet consumers and collectors through special events.

“I always thought it would be great to travel the world with watches and so I asked brands and watchmakers such as Daniel Roth and Roger Dubuis if they would like to work and travel with me and they did,” said Holtzman. The tour is a chance for Maitres du Temps to reach a global audience with fine watchmaking, something Holtzman feels is beginning to finally translate as consumers look for something more than a brand name with their watch. “We were in Mexico City and almost 30 people lined up for photographs and we suddenly realised that people want to know more about the people behind the watchmaking,” he said.

Holtzman added that Salon QP had offered him the chance to show clients the watches and that this allows for better interaction for a small company; Maitres du Temps has fewer than 20 people working to produce around 250 timepieces a year retailing from £70,000 up to £375,000. “We have about 22 points of sale across the world and choose retailers we love,” he said, adding that despite Maitre du Temps’ worldwide tour, its plans to expand are still relatively small scale. “We have limited production so we need to keep the balance between supply and demand.”

Likewise, independent watchmaker Heritage Watch Manufactory (HWM) said while Salon QP was great for exposure, its growth plans are still low-key due to production levels. It is still selling directly to collectors and admits introduction to the leading markets has been tough. “We have been in China but you have to be a recognised brand there and of course we can only sell in limited quantities,” said HWM co-founder Christian Gütermann. “We believe the watches simply need explanation when meeting possible retailers or collectors.” HWM will show what it has dubbed an “evolutionary timepiece” at SIHH in January and a second watch of the same ilk at BaselWorld in March.

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