Rising to the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis, organizers of ‘Watches & Wonders’ have capitalized on their digital prowess to host the event with as much impact and grandeur, if not more!
By: Jiya Sharma
Posted on: May 8, 2020
It seems as if life is getting more and more unpredictable with each passing day with the arrival of the COVID-19 Pandemic. The year 2020 was supposed to mark the commencement of many plans and projects scheduled for this exciting new decade. However, disruption is not new to mankind. Every once in a while, we face something unexpected that challenges our faculties and contradicts our inertia. Out of these battles emerge forces that are eventually historic markers of progress. The COVID-19 crisis is no different. The disruption that accompanies the COVID-19 crisis has allowed mankind to come together to rethink and innovate more than ever before. The Watches & Wonders exhibition is an example of the same. The trade show of the international watch and jewellery industry, formerly known as SIHH, organized by the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH) usually takes place at Palexpo in Geneva, Switzerland. The show was scheduled for April 25-29, 2020 but had to be cancelled due to the pandemic. It was, however, adapted instantly, and was held online on the same dates.
In an impressively short period, the FHH decided to host the event digitally and enabled the creation of a platform for the event in record time, for all the thirty exhibiting brands to present their latest products.
The digital event was essential since not only does the press eagerly look forward to the event, but so do the retailers, who use the event to explore new brand innovations and make order decisions for upcoming seasons. Watches & Wonders, therefore, mixes both business and pleasure. Another segment that certainly benefitted from the digitization of the event were watch collectors and enthusiasts from across the world who chimed into the platform and got a first-hand experience of the event!
The Digital Platform
The platform has been designed in an organized matter with an incredibly pleasing and seamless UX. Each brand has its own webspace through the platform where all of their latest releases, innovations and communications are present for all to view. Each of these new releases have been represented using close ups and detailed shooting of the models and their features, along with leaders of the brands talking to the attendees about the brand's sentiments behind the new innovations.
An interesting section of the platform is the "W&W Insiders". It highlights different selections of watches made by experts based on common use cases and themes. For example, the 'Selection of Watches & Wonders Ladies Watches in 2020', is a short video which explores a selection of 6 ladies watches released in the event, and the features, themes and innovation that makes them what they are. An entire section of the platform is also dedicated to coverage of the event on Social Media to allow one to easily access public feedback and sentiment.
After having gone through the diverse selection of watches created by the world's most skilled watchmakers carefully, I have come up with five watches that we found incredibly interesting!
1. Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande Tradition Grande Complication
Talented watchmakers at Jaeger LeCoultre have invented a complex mechanism based on a sidereal day. The Sidereal Day is slightly shorter than a Solar Day which is 24h long. The Sidereal Day is based on Earth's rotation measured relative to the 'fixed' stars, and takes precisely 23 h, 56 min and 4.1 seconds. It is used by astronomers to follow the apparent movement of the stars across the night sky. The watch hosts a calendar with day, month and Zodiac symbol, along with a minute repeater. The minute repeater provides an audible indication of time, chiming on the hour, quarter of an hour and minutes, as desired.
2. Hermes Arceau L'Heure de la Lune
This next watch is equally celestially-inspired. The watch offers unique access to Earth's natural satellite, the moon, and its phases in both, Northern and Southern Hemisphere. At 12 o'clock, a Pegasus designed by the "dreamer-designer" Dimitri Rybaltchenko is visible on the moon. The portrayal of the winged horse hints at a passage between two worlds, where magic and reality merge. At 6 o'clock, the northern hemisphere moon on the watch provides a realistic depiction of its surface. The counters, while being mobile and rotating on a dial, display the time and date. They turn weightlessly to reveal the moon discs while maintaining their horizontal orientation.
3. Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept
After 6 years of R&D and 5 patents therein, Piaget has come up with the world's thinnest mechanical watch yet again. Using the ultimate powers of horological micro-engineering, this watch is 2mm thick and makes for a great collector's item. It holds a total of 167 components down to the thickness of 0.12mm. Almost as thin as paper, it took 4 years to manufacture the prototype alone, which reveals its calibre 900P-UC, in complete transparency.
4. Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers - The Singing Birds
Inspired by the spirit of its founder, Vacheron Constantin continues the tradition of offering its best clients the chance to create made-to-measure watches. This service is offered through a dedicated department, bringing together all of the skills needed to make these exceptional pieces: Les Cabinotiers. A highly skilled and innovative team, Les Cabinotiers came up with the concept "La Musique du Temps" (The music of time). This watch, with an extra-thin 1120 AT, provides an off-centered display of the hours on a right-hand dial sector while leaving space to express the four one-of-a-kind creations - showcasing artistic crafts by respectively featuring a hummingbird, a blue jay, a blue tit and a robin.
5. Hyt H₀ watch
Hyt says that "Life is a stream of individual experiences, each one heightened by the impact of what went before it and the potential of what's to come." The latest h0 timepiece by Hyt is an invitation to reflect deeply on one's perception of time. With an enigmatic black canvas, one can visualize and honour the flow of existence. The watch uses the power of monochrome to present a distraction-free view of fluidic time. Hyt challenges conventions with an increased focus on the hour of six o'clock to allow the wearer to reinterpret their own 'turning points' during the day. It also makes wearers reanalyze the importance they attribute to darkness and light. The orange super-luminova mirrors the Sun in an effort for the same.
Overall, the Watches & Wonders event allowed for an increased number of people to attend and create personal bonds with the brands on the platform through unique access. The audience thoroughly enjoyed the gigital event, which received great feedback across Social Media. Such transformations during the ongoing crisis have been inevitable with digitization being adopted across sectors. Things that were obviously offline have been reimagined to adapt to an increasingly online world. It is but natural that the transformation has its demerits along with the numerous merits, but irrespective, it is bound to see a rise the coming years.
With latest releases, trends in design, expert analysis and messages by leaders from the 30 brands that participated, even the most skeptical were transformed into watch lovers, making the event a perfect example of innovation in disruption.