For those unfamiliar with the Miami Design District, it is easily one of the most luxurious shopping areas in Florida. The outside shopping center is home to nearly 100 incredible retail stores and restaurants that run the gamut from Fendi to Saint Laurent, Berluti and Loro Piana, among others. The master plan for the district was developed in cooperation with a host of architects, who incorporated art, architecture and design into the neighborhood experience. It was in this luxurious environment, under sunny skies and warm temperatures, that Watches & Wonders Miami took place. The event was spearheaded and sponsored by the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH), in cooperation with the Miami Design District (MDD) Associates. It was held concurrently with the MDD Concours car show, with some of the biggest money cars, including Lamborghinis, Ferraris, and more, lining the streets of the district. In fact, the car show was a huge draw for collectors of cars and watches, which so often are one and the same.
Participating in the event were 21 top watch and jewelry brands*, all centered around the palm-tree lined and aptly named Palm Court where, with Buckminster Fuller’s Fly’s Eye Dome as the centerpiece, visitors could walk from brand to brand, and experience some of the finest timepieces in the world. Additionally, six brands without boutiques in MDD exhibited with pop-up shops on a third-floor location. Even Phillips auction house had space inside the Opera Gallery to display some of the watches that will be coming up for auction in spring, including the Elvis Presley-owned Omega.
Many of the boutiques stepped up their game by adding new interior displays and even exterior structures.
New watches and boutique looks
Easily the highlights of the four-day event, which kicked off on Friday night with a huge cocktail party, were the watches and the boutiques. In fact many of the boutiques stepped up their game by adding new interior displays and even exterior structures. IWC, for instance, erected exterior pillars and a three-dimensional, multi-tiered clock that touted the brand’s 150th anniversary and recalled its SIHH exhibition space. Panerai had several important artworks on display that were created for the brand by Damien Hirst. Other brands brought in special exhibits. A. Lange & Söhne assembled what may well have been the most comprehensive collection of chronographs from the brand ever seen in the USA; TAG Heuer had its Museum in Motion exhibit in place, showing some 50 historically important timepieces from the brand’s own museum and from collectors in America. Brands such as Bulgari, Louis Vuitton and Hublot had watchmakers demonstrating their art on-site.
As for products, a host of brands presented pieces that had never been seen before in America. Parmigiani Fleurier, for example, unveiled two previously unseen watches at Watches & Wonders Miami: the Tonda 1950 Annual Calendar and the Tonda 1950 Squelette whose skeleton dial allows a beautiful view of the ultra-thin movement and 18 internal angles. Bulgari brought in the Divas’ Dream Finissima, its first ladies’ minute repeater watch, for the first time in the USA. Similarly, F.P. Journe showcased the recently unveiled Chronographe Monopoussoir Rattrapante while Louis Vuitton displayed its Tambour Moon Mystérieuse Flying Tourbillon in the presence of Michel Navas, master watchmaker at La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton.
Impressions of Watches & Wonders Miami
The event has all the signs of being a highly successful show in terms of driving traffic to the watch and jewelry boutiques of MDD, and in terms of brand exposure and even sales. It certainly helped that the car Concours was concurrent at MDD, as well as a great motorcycle exhibit, The Art of the Italian Two Wheel, that showcased some of Italy’s finest motorcycles from the 1960s and ‘70s by the likes of Ducati or MV Agusta. Similarly, the fact that the Miami Yacht Show was in town, on Collins Ave, Miami Beach, also contributed to attendance. The MDD and FHH estimate that more than 20,000 people visited the various events over the weekend.
*In total, 21 brands participated with A. Lange & Söhne, Audemars Piguet, Bulgari, Cartier, Hermes, Hublot, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Louis Vuitton, Panerai, Parmigiani, Piaget, Tag Heuer, Vacheron Constantin and Van Cleef & Arpels. The six pop-up boutiques were by Armin Strom, F.P. Journe, Kari Voutilainen, Ralph Lauren, RJ-Romain Jerome and Romain Gauthier.