A. Lange & Söhne Replica Watches, Boucheron, Girard-Perregaux, Vacheron Constantin and Zenith were the last remaining big watch brands among the 30 exhibitors at the 2015 edition of Belles Montres held at the Carrousel du Louvre in Paris. The Parisian event is undergoing sweeping changes relating to its incorporation within the Salon de l’homme, which was held on the same site with twice as many exhibitors – including some watchmakers such as Anonimo which preferred to be part of that particular universe. Its positioning midway between masculine luxury accessories and watchmaking appeals to brands looking for a new clientele. Zenith International Commercial Director Nicolas Meda found it “quite fun to be able to switch from bespoke shoes to men’s accessories and to meet a new audience”. The Paris terrorist attacks did not dampen attendance too much, but exhibitors are expecting more professionalism from organisers in the future.
Present for the second consecutive year at Belles Montres, Cvstos had delegated one of its watchmakers, Paulo Goncalves, to discuss watchmaking with the public. Cvstos will be a first-time exhibitor at Baselworld in 2016, and will be launching its forged carbon cases at the start of the year.
Glass half full
Philippe Belais, CEO of Claude Meylan, summed up the situation in these terms, while declaring himself globally satisfied with this edition: “This is our brand’s fifth participation at Belles Montres, under three different owners of the show. When I heard last year that Belles Montres was being taken over by the Salon de l’Homme, I was enthusiastic, and right from the first evening I had some very fine surprises with connoisseurs of bespoke products. I am delighted with this additional exposure to customers who are not necessarily passionate about watchmaking but are already luxury clients keen on toys for boys. I feel that the orientation of this show fulfils my expectations and brings us into contact with more open-minded customers. Three or four years ago, visitors were watchmaking aficionados but not necessarily buyers, whereas here I have the feeling that we are dealing not with experts but with real consumers.”
In general, Claude Meylan meets the public via its retailers, by organising very local events to explain its expertise: the art of skeleton-working, openworking and decoration, performed by a small independent brand with a highly distinctive territory. “Our niche is that of ‘the sculptors of time’, a theme we also interpret through pocket Swiss replica watches and increasingly for women, as you will see in 2016.”
For the CEOs of Anonimo and Czapek who were relaunching their brands this year, the event was also fairly satisfactory. Commenting on his decision to exhibit at Belles Montres, Xavier de Roquemaurel (CEO Czapek) said: “It used to be a yearly Parisian rendezvous for watch enthusiasts, and the fusion with the Salon de l’Homme has had positive and negative effects: a little less precision in terms of organisation, but some very fruitful encounters right from the first evening. Cocktails tend to attract people who are keener on cocktails than on watchmaking, but in this case there were plenty of knowledgeable people who had studied Czapek and seen the fake watches UK before meeting us. Many of them drop by and understand that our “independent brands corner” offers exceptional horology. I find it pleasant to have combined the show with the Salon de l’Homme, because these visitors appreciate fine objects, thereby enriching the overall experience.”
Xavier de Roquemaurel, CEO of Czapek. © Brice Lechevalier
Also present on the Czapek booth, Philippe is one of the investors won over by the Czapek concept and its collaborative approach. “I’m not a collector by nature of the kind who would like to hoard Replica Watches in safes, but it’s rare to get a chance to be a co-shareholder in a top-level watch company – especially when it involves the resurrection of such a fine history backed by such high standards in terms of both products and project management.” Czapek’s next date with the public will take place during the SIHH at the Hôtel des Bergues in Geneva, “in order to present our Quai des Bergues collection!”
Speaking from the Anonimo booth located in the more fashion-oriented masculine universe of the Salon de l’Homme, CEO Frédéric Bastia explained that his aim in exhibiting there was “to understand French consumers’ reactions to the brand and the new collections, and to meet people liable to distribute our products on this market. This eminently masculine environment is a good match for us; visitors are interested in the leather used for our straps and they appreciate our quality/price ratio as well as the consistency of our story based around the Matterhorn and driven by the slogan “born in Italy, crafted in Switzerland.” Meanwhile, Anonimo’s Marketing Director, Julien Haenny, specified that the brand will exhibit at Baselworld for the second year running in 2016 and will launch a new casual chic collection reflecting Italian elegance, as well as exploring new territories of expression relating to motorbikes and sailing in cooperation with local partners in several countries.”
On the Anonimo booth, Frédéric Bastia and Julien Haenny. © Brice Lechevalier