One event and now three continents with the launch of Watches & Wonders in China. The format has evolved significantly, in response to Covid-19, to become an immersive experience with both physical and digital components. Initially, Watches & Wonders would have carried on this year from Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie in Geneva on the eve of its 30th anniversary, in a city-wide celebration of watches and watchmaking. As the pandemic set in, Watches & Wonders lost no time in adapting and moved online, introducing a new breed of virtual fair that proved ideally suited to the new global situation. Building on the concept’s success, Watches & Wonders is making its first incursion into China, combining the advantages of a traditional fair with the potential of its online counterpart.
One fair, two events
Watches & Wonders Shanghai will take place at the West Bund Art Center, a venue widely regarded as the city’s hottest address for art and leisure. Scheduled September 9th to 13th, the first two days are reserved for the media and professionals, then the following three for the public, by invitation, who can enjoy a specially curated programme of cultural and educational opportunities. The exhibiting brands are nine prestigious Maisons in the Richemont group* as well as Parmigiani Fleurier and Purnell. At the same time as this physical event, “Watches & Wonders goes digital** in China on the third anniversary of Tmall’s Luxury Pavilion,” to quote Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH), partner to the event.
Tmall – Alibaba Group’s e-commerce platform for foreign brands – launched in 2008 and currently serves over 700 million Chinese consumers. According to Analysys, it is the largest third-party online commerce platform in terms of gross merchandise volume (GMV). Richemont and Alibaba have in fact been partners since 2018 when the two set up a joint venture to accompany Richemont’s digital development in China. The online version of Watches & Wonders will be hosted on Tmall’s Luxury Pavilion, with its 200-plus luxury brands, and will feature on a number of its flagship stores including the Richemont-owned Net-A-Porter Flagship Store. The pre-sale period will run from September 1st to 11th then sales will take place September 12th and 13th.
An immersive experience
“This digital showcase enables Chinese consumers and watch enthusiasts to access an immersive experience, featuring exclusive curated content and previews of the latest models from leading luxury watch brands,” notes the FHH. The third anniversary of Tmall’s Luxury Pavilion will be celebrated throughout September with a series of online and offline events that include the full Watches & Wonders experience, Tmall Fashion Week activations, plus a Luxury Pavilion Channel Celebration with brands and round tables. “After our first successful digital launch in April 2020, we are honoured to partner again with Tmall Luxury Pavilion for our first combined virtual and physical event. This represents a unique opportunity for our participating Maisons to present their creations and connect directly to the Chinese clientele, offering them a wonderful experience thanks to the exceptional engagement capabilities of the Tmall Luxury Pavilion platform,” declared Emmanuel Perrin, President of the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie.
Watches & Wonders Shanghai Unveils its First Look
*The Watches & Wonders event will feature Parmigiani Fleurier and Purnell as well as nine of Richemont’s prestigious watch Maisons: A. Lange & Söhne, Baume & Mercier, Cartier, IWC Schaffhausen, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Panerai, Piaget, Roger Dubuis and Vacheron Constantin.
**The Watches & Wonders digital event can be accessed through the Net-A-Porter Flagship Store on Tmall’s Luxury Pavilion, as well as at Tmall Club, Taobao Live, via Richemont brands’ channels, and on Weibo and WeChat social channels.