If you’re a SalonQP regular, you’ll already be winding your watch in anticipation of today - 7 November. If you’re just a curious rookie looking to trade up on that battered Casio, then you’ll want to find out what all the fuss is about.
“The secret of SalonQP's success?” ponders QP Editor and Esquire Watch correspondent James Gurney. “It’s the simple fact we’re bringing a wide-ranging selection of watch brands into direct touch with an enthusiastic audience. We have an intimate environment that encourages visitors to engage on a personal level.”
SalonQP has grown in size and repute since 2009’s slightly frayed-around-the-edges debut at One Marylebone. The Saatchi Gallery on King’s Road is now precisely the sort of slick, spacious, yet exclusive venue that London’s watch fans and countless luxury brands expect.
This year’s showcase should be the biggest and slickest yet, attaracting a a discerning crowd and the finest watch brands — including Jaeger-LeCoultre, Bell & Ross, TAG Heuer, Bulgari, Bremont and Frédérique Constant, as well as connoisseurs’ favourites Laurent Ferrier and MB&F.
Unlike the trade-only, by-invite extravaganzas held in Geneva and Basel in January and March, SalonQP is a boutique and hands-on consumer showcase — a celebration of great watchmaking as much as a marketplace for retailers and industry types.
Unlike the SIHH (Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie) in Geneva and the Baselworld fair, at SalonQP watch enthusiasts can get up close and personal, with numerous watchmaking workshops and seminars. On the Friday, Simon de Burton will be moderating a discussion about the long-standing relationship between the wristwatch and the motorcar.
Straight afterwards, four mavericks of the independent watchmaking scene — Romain Gauthier (Swiss), Stepan Sarpaneva (Finnish), Richard Habring (Austrian) and Benoît Mintiens (Belgian) — will discuss their diverse backgrounds and what they can offer that the large brands don't.
In fact, it’s the boutique brands who really shine at SalonQP; none more so than the British watchmaking firms that have begun to make their presence felt over the past five years or so. Leading the charge is Bremont, of course, whose rugged, Biggles-worthy pilot watches are produced in a log cabin in Henley, followed closely by Robert Loomes, Schofield, Meridian, Peter Roberts and — making their world debut at SalonQP – new brands such as Hoptroff and Pinion.
Here, we introduce you to the watch brands vying to restore British watchmaking to the position of pre-eminence it enjoyed in the 18th and 19th centuries before the Swiss got in on the action.
SalonQP, 7–9 November at the Saatchi Gallery, King's Road, London. Book tickets at www.salonqp.com Alex Doak is managing editor ofTheProdigalGuide.com, who will be hosting three of ‘Talking Hands’ watch reviews live at SalonQP
While Britain boasts a host of world-class fine art, antiques and classic car fairs, SalonQP is its only fine-watch fair. What makes it one of the most anticipated entries on the international luxury events calendar is that it is not only for watch buffs, its appeal reaching from those curious to know more about a treasured heirloom to anyone keen to re-evaluate the little mechanical marvels that most of us wear every day.
The show is beautifully put together and there is a great mix of exhibitors, from top Swiss watch marques to weird and wonderful independent makers, such as Urwerk, which has created a concept piece that can monitor and adjust its own accuracy. SalonQP, Saatchi Gallery, London SW3, November 7-9.
Leading ladiesThe Jaeger-LeCoultre stand is always buzzing throughout SalonQP as people congregate to catch a glimpse of the Swiss marque's artisans at work, or to share personal stories linked to treasured Reversos. This year it has chosen to celebrate its 180th birthday at SalonQP with an exhibition of a little-known aspect of its oeuvre: women's designs, old and new. These include the teensy Calibre 101 movement, which the Queen wore set into a Cartier bracelet for her Coronation, and the 1910 Montre Broche, an art nouveau pocket watch.
Double featureKonstantin Chaykin's Cinema Watch comes complete with a 20-second animated version of Eadweard Muybridge's original film of a galloping horse and rider. Powered by a movement inspired by early movie projectors, it promises to be one of the star attractions this year.
Ball and chainThe Pendentif Boule rolls, it rotates and it sparkles with diamonds (all 480 of them). Only Hermès could revisit its archive and come up with this quirky little riposte to an old buttonhole watch. The moonlike mother-of-pearl dial is beautifully conceived, while the hand-tooled alligator-leather casing can be personalised in a colour of the wearer's choice. See it first at SalonQP.
Quantum leapThere's something of the genius of the great 18th-century inventors about the London-based watch-movement maker Hoptroff. The horological possibilities of atomic power preoccupy it currently, hence its Atom Heart Mother project: the No 10 is the world's first atomic-powered pocket watch.