With the main objective to promote the craftsmanship and creativity of mechanical watches, the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie organizes fairs, exhibitions and unique events that carry its message to the four corners of the globe. The Fondation has found an ideal partner in Galeries Lafayette Paris Haussmann, a leading department store that proposes more than seventy watch brands, with highly qualified professionals at each booth to guide customers towards the right purchase. Galeries Lafayette has advised clients by direct e-mail of the fine watchmaking event, and relayed information to the public via its website, through social media, and with mini-guides destined for the international clientele.
Located on the ground floor, next to the watches and jewellery department, the exhibition showcases eight fine watchmaking brands, each displaying four watches that have marked its past and recent history. Baume & Mercier, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Montblanc, Panerai, Piaget, Roger Dubuis and Vacheron Constantin have brought together timepieces that show not just the history and evolution of each brand, but also provide insights into the period during which they were created. More than that, each timepiece has its own story.
Stories to tell
One example is the Jaeger-LeCoultre 1960 Memovox. In addition to an attractive aesthetic, the wristwatch boasts hours, minutes, seconds, date, and a … repeater alarm function, the first in an automatic watch when it was created in 1950. Adopted by businessmen who used it to manage their appointments and to serve as a wake-up alarm when traveling, it was joined in 1958 by the Memovox Parking model with yet another useful function — it could be set to alert the wearer that his parking meter was about to expire! Another piece from the same brand, for ladies this time, is the 1936 Reverso Dame Cordonnet that inspired the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso One Cordonnet with its chic vintage look, introduced last year to celebrate the 85th anniversary of the Reverso collection. As for the history of the Reverso, that’s another very long story. Master Ultra Thin Moon and Rendez-Vous Night models from 2017 provide an up-to-date look at the brand.
From Vacheron Constantin, we see the 40 x 40mm version of the Historiques American 1921, a line for which a new smaller model measuring 36.5mm was launched just last week. Both have evolved from the original, created in the 1920s for an American client who wanted to read the time easily while driving with both hands on the steering wheel. His request resulted in a practical watch with a diagonal read-off on the dial, made possible by a 45-degree counterclockwise rotation of the movement, displacing the crown to between 1 and 2 o’clock and the small seconds display to between 4 and 5 o’clock. Didn’t we say that every watch has a story?
Treat your eyes to the breathtaking 1969 cuff watch in jade by Piaget, showing hours and minutes run by a manual movement. This magnificent piece is an example of both the brand’s world-first watches with dials made of hard stones, and the launch of cuff watches that followed shortly thereafter, creating a Piaget signature style with precious watchmaking. Just next to it is a model from the 2017 Piaget Altiplano 60th Anniversary Collection, an automatic ultra-thin watch with a beautiful blue dial.
Roger Dubuis shows off its best-selling model – the Excalibur Spider Skeleton double flying tourbillon, and for ladies the Velvet Essential; Panerai displays one of the new trimmed-down Luminor – the Luminor Due 3 Days – among “traditional” Luminor and Radiomir models; IWC presents a modern version of the Portugieser Perpetual Calendar, a timepiece that made history when it was invented by the great Kurt Klaus in 1985; Montblanc presents its 2017 Timewalker Chronograph UTC with a second time zone, along with a Compteur Minerva Rally Timer from 1960; Baume & Mercier shows off its Classima for men and Promesse for ladies, each equipped with an automatic movement.
Don’t leave the exhibition without asking for a virtual reality experience. Choose from an adventure at sea, on the land or in the air. It’s guaranteed thrills, and at the same time brings home the usefulness of complicated mechanisms.
In addition to the exhibition, four talks (in French) are programmed for Thursday and Friday October 12th and 13th, at 6pm and 7pm, with the following themes:
– How a Watch Works.
– The Universe of Fine Watchmaking.
– Horological Trends.
Sign up here
Galeries Lafayette, 40 bd Haussmann, Paris.
Open from 9:30 am to 8:30 pm.
The exhibition runs until Sunday October 22nd.