TimeCrafters Luxury Watch Exhibition: History and craftsmanship

The second annual TimeCrafters Luxury Watch Exhibition, held on the Upper East Side of New York City at the Park Avenue Armory, featured a number of luxury brands, including Baume & Mercier, Audemars Piguet, Chopard, Tag Heuer, Hublot, Omega and Girard-Perregaux.  Some companies brought their actual watchmakers – wearing long white lab coats, nonetheless – to demonstrate the mechanics of their work.  A typical booth setup included dark wood tables and display cases, creating a boardroom feel.  Watches seemed to compete against each other for which could have the most ornate, features-laden face, let alone the most intricate internal cogs.

In contrast to this was Baume & Mercier’s booth, which was decorated with a large Hamptons beach house backdrop and light driftwood furniture straight from a Crate & Barrel catalog.  Despite having its origins in 19th-century Geneva, this modern WASP aesthetic drives sales of its most popular men’s line, fittingly called the “Hamptons” style, featuring rich brown leather bands and simple rectangular faces.  This imagery apparently translates well in Asia also, where the brand has held a presence since 1998 and where the “Linea” line is its most popular.

Besides displays from luxury watch brands, Switzerland sponsored a “Think Time – Think Swiss Excellence” exhibit comprising eight panels detailing the history of Swiss watchmaking and how its legacy continues in the contemporary market.  Although a bit dry, the exhibit contained facts, graphs and audio narrations that only a true connoisseur could appreciate.

A more fascinating exhibit was the 293-piece selection from the Blum Collection of Swatch watches, now owned by a clearly enthusiastic Chinese collector.  Billed as “the most successful wristwatch of all time,” the range of Swatch designs on display from past to present showed the versatility and sense of humor that has made the watch company so popular.  Notable pieces were a Keith Haring-designed prototype and a whimsical bacon watch, where the plastic straps resembled strips of bacon.

Oddly sharing one corner of the space was the Sotheby’s Diamonds Collection.  Security guards and Sotheby’s employees not so discreetly hung around the glass cases housing fantastical rings, necklaces and bracelets with price tags just as (or perhaps even more) astronomical as one of the fine artisanal watches shown nearby.


Photo Gallery: TimeCrafters Luxury Watch Exhibition
all photos by Kwai Chan / Meniscus Magazine