Europe Monday, December 13th 2010
Why change a winning combination? The fourth International Prestige Watch Fair, held in Paris at end November, was a renewed opportunity for the public to discover these marvels of technology, more often than not presented by their creators.
The International Prestige Watch Fair ''Belles Montres'' in Paris © Belles Montres
to Belles Montres in Paris, which held its fourth edition November 26th, 27th and 28th, will have been struck by the fact that the majority of exhibitors return to the event year after year. For a simple reason: the convivial mood that reigns at this International Prestige Watch Fair. The event's organisers, Alain Faust and Catherine Faust-Tobiasse, have never strayed from their original ambition: "To bring the most technically sophisticated watches to the widest possible audience; to present under the same roof leading names and smaller brands, often unheard of in France; and to promote an appreciation and understanding of exceptional watchmaking."
And they can be proud of their achievement. Belles Montres now attracts more than 12,000 visitors who are drawn by the fifty-some watch firms exhibiting there and the various activities proposed. This year these included the chance to take apart and assemble a mechanical movement at the workshop hosted by the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie, and the presentation of the 21 watches in the running for the Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève. Without doubt, the atmosphere inside the fair plays no small part in its success, as visitors meet face-to-face the creators of the watches they can admire on the stands.
"Personally, this is my first time at Belles Montres, although the brand already took part last year," commented Guido Terreni, Operational Manager of the Watch Business Unit at Bulgari. "I was immediately struck by the enormous potential of a fair whose quality is in large part due to the knowledgeable audience it attracts. We've had the chance to talk with collectors and aficionados, and their emotions on discovering our collections are the best possible reward. It is this response that inspires us to continue along the road we've followed for ten years now and have Bulgari conquer the highest echelons of watchmaking."
"A journey through the stars"
It seems the brand has reached its objective, with two Bulgari watches from the Gérald Genta collections winning awards: the steel and ceramic Octo Biretrograde for the Swiss Montres Passion magazine, and the Octo Grande Sonnerie Tourbillon for China's Time Square magazine. "This appreciation of timepieces that match beauty with savoir-faire is something we find here at Belles Montres," Guido Terreni continued. "And not only directed towards our technical models, hence why we are also presenting our Serpenti collection of women's watches, which we launched in September. Undoubtedly, fairs such as this help us move forward along our chosen road. If we are to present the values that matter most to our brand, nothing can replace the physical presence of the watches and their creators."
Stephen Forsey, co-founder of Greubel Forsey, takes a similar view. "We've been at Belles Montres since it began. It's an interesting time for us as it gives us the chance to make ourselves better known, to share our savoir-faire and explain the technology behind our watches. In this business, you can't rest on your laurels hence these exchanges are an important way to assert our coherency and identity."
The founders of the fair intended that this fourth Belles Montres reveal the hidden treasures beneath the dial, the marvels of the finest watch manufacturers, the "miniature cosmos" that sits on the wrist. "What if this were the true reason behind this fascination for complications? The moon phases, perpetual calendars and sidereal times that reproduce the fundamental elements that structure the universe and the movements in the sky, at which point the watch becomes a sacred object that connects the infinitely small with the infinitely vast," pondered Alain Faust. "Enough to send aficionados of beautiful watches on a journey through the stars." Stars that would shine in the eyes of visitors all the way home. ■