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Sunday, September 16, 2012

TimeCrafters Brings the Excitement of the Luxury Swiss Watches to the Public

A display of Frederique Constant timepieces at the TimeCrafters exhibit.

NEW YORK — The Swiss watch industry does understand that the view consumers have of luxury is changing. No longer are they passive buyers and fans, accepting the products and marketing from the temple of the brand. Consumers now want to be engaged, active participants in the luxury lifestyle process. Digital media is the cause of this and the Swiss watch industry is still reluctant to engage in social media and e-commerce fully. Instead, they prefer providing consumers a personal touch. One example of this was the TimeCrafters luxury watch event this past weekend at the Park Avenue Armory.

This second-annual event billed as a museum-quality exhibition of timepieces, is more like an industry tradeshow showcasing the newest luxury timepieces on the market from 21 brands. No matter how it appeared, TimeCrafters provided the general public with an in depth look at watchmaking precision and craftsmanship. It also provided a look at the newest luxury timepieces on the market.

In addition to an upclose view of timepieces, there were actual museum-quality exhibitions, historical presentations, watchmakers showing their craft and a even some presentations. There were several highlights. Among them:

* Baume & Mercier brought an historical collection of its timepieces, several are the inspiration for current models, along with watchmaking tools from the early 1900s.

* Girard-Perregaux was busy for this event. The brand introduced to the U.S., one of its newest hires, legendary watchmaker Dominique Loiseau, who gave a brief presentation Thursday of the company’s “Manifesto of Time,” a philosophy of watchmaking he is leading that will culminate in the release of a luxury timepiece that will include a grande sonnerie and integrated chronograph.

* Girard-Perregaux also released a new timepiece for the exhibition: the Bi-Axial Tourbillon. It combines two concentric cages that enable the regulating part of the movement to make multidimensional rotations. An internal cage with the balance wheel, balance spring and escapement completes one full turn on its axis in forty-five seconds. An external cage completes one revolution in one minute and fifteen seconds, enabling a rotation on its second axis. A full revolution is completed in three minutes and forty-five seconds, which can be seen in the watch dial.

* Frederique Constant had a full array of its watches on hand, including its Slimline Tourbillion, a completely in-house manufactured timepiece that combines its Slimline ladies watch with a tourbillion movement.

* Dior brought a new collection of ceramic watches for women adorned with diamonds and gemstones. It includes the Dior VIII Grand Bar Resille watch, with a “Dior-inverse” caliber with an oscillating weight made of white gold that is set with either white diamonds or, the more flamboyant white-painted Italian rooster feathers.

There were some museum-quality exhibits as well, including:

The Blum Collection. The largest collection of Swatch watches, including prototypes, hybrids and variations. The collection of Peter and Linda Blum recently sold at auction in Hong Kong for $6.5 million.

A grouping of Swatch designer prototypes from the Blum Collection..

Sotheby’s Diamond Collection. Jewelry was not left out this timepiece exhibition as the auction house brought in a stunning collection of hand-crafted diamond jewelry, with the diamonds cut and polished by the Steinmetz Diamond Group.

A jewelry display from the Sotheby's Diamond Collection exhibit.

Think Time, Think Swiss Excellence. This is a grouping of interactive panels by the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry that presents an overview of the Swiss watch industry along with a detailed look at the watch manufacturing process.

This event is one of several ways that the industry is reaching out to the public. Maybe someday this outreach will include full-scale digital media.

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