By Adi Soon
The recent SalonQP in London was certainly an eye-opening experience for me being a first time watch exhibition attendee. I had high expectations of going to this event and in many ways I wasn't disappointed.
Unlike Baselworld where new products are announced and launched, the SalonQP in London functions more as an opportunity for the brands to interface with their potential customers in a plush, cosy environment. Surrounded by resplendent grounds and set in an area in a high-end part of London, the Saatchi gallery played host over three days to a crowd of connoisseur watch lovers. Fittingly chosen as a location as well, due to the fact that many of the pieces on display did certainly rise to the level of art. What more a compliment to be paid to the watches than being in an art gallery?
On a personal level, it was an extremely good opportunity for me to set eyes upon and sometimes handle the watches that I had heard about but not seen in person. Without exception, the brands themselves were all very eager to showcase their merchandise to the show attendees, and it certainly came across more as a social event in which conversations centred around the watches, and where detailed demonstrations of their functions where given.
Looking through the exhibitor list, I was most excited to see the pieces by the new independents. Companies like MB&F, Urwerk, Ressence and Slyde, that are pioneering new methods of displaying time, as well as taking horology in exciting directions. Then I was also excited to see some of the new emerging companies, and looking at how they were going to differentiate themselves from the crowd. The old faithfuls, like JLC, Vacheron Constantin, GP, were there as well, and established credibility to the event by their presence.
Set over three floors in art gallery spaces, the entire exhibition was housed in halls that allowed one to wander around in amazement. It was not too big that one would become easily fatigued, yet not so small as to be a waste of time. In fact, the comfortable size of the event allowed attendees to have a cosy time with the brands as well as the watches themselves.
Additionally, as with events of this nature, there were scheduled talks by leading members of the watch industry, as well as a special screening of "The Watchmaker's Apprentice", a documentary about the life of the British master watchmaker, George Daniels and his relationship with his apprentice, Roger Smith.
This documentary was one of the markers of a feeling that seemed to pervade this particular show. And it was self-evident in my conversations with a number of the brands present. This feeling, was a sense of an emergent British identify in watch-making, that had for various reasons been subverted by the mighty Swiss watch industry. Home grown brands like Bremont, Meridian, and Robert Loomes were those that embodied this movement, and for me, represented a renewed vigour by the local watch industry to reclaim their horological birthright.
Now in its 4th edition, the SalonQP has certainly become one of the highlights for watch lovers every year in London. Judging by the comments that were made by various show attendees, the event though relatively young, has become something of an anticipated fixture. I for one, have thoroughly enjoyed the social aspect of the event, and will certainly look forward to the next one.
Adi Soon is a watch lover and former journalist who lives in England away from his native Singapore and covered the 2012 SalonQP watch show for aBlogtoWatch