Mid-October is all about timepieces in the city. During the week of WatchTime New York (as well as WindUp), the Big Apple is pulsating with watch industry energy. In addition to the watch exhibition itself, many other events take place, from auctions to new boutique openings. But there’s no denying that the main attraction is WatchTime, held at the illustrious Gotham Hall on the corner of Broadway and 36th Street, just a stone’s throw away from Macy’s.
For years, the venue has been home to what has proven the most important watch exhibition in the USA, organized by the eminent WatchTime Magazine. It’s not the only industry event in the US, but when it comes to brands showcasing their latest and greatest – like we’d see in Geneva for Watches and Wonders or Geneva Watch Days – there’s nothing else like it stateside. As luck would have it, we were on the ground to report what happened during that sunny mid-October weekend in New York City.
A Grand Expansion and Exciting Discoveries
Compared to previous years, this latest show expanded quite a bit. There were three areas to explore: The main hall was where most brands set up their booths, the upper level was exclusively for independent brands (e.g., Laurent Ferrier, Moritz Grossmann, Kari Voutilainen, etc.), and a side room hosted panel talks. The most exciting area is undoubtedly the main hall. You could find smaller stalls, mostly indie brands, around the periphery of the hall; anything from Armin Strom and MB&F to Greubel Forsey, HYT, and Gerald Charles. In the center were the more major brands like Breguet, Blancpain, Chopard, and Bell & Ross. In previous editions, visitors had the chance to see the latest and greatest from Omega, Grand Seiko, and A. Lange & Söhne, but none of those brands exhibited this year. But don’t get me wrong, there was still plenty to see.
As always, we started with the main hall to check out the major stalls. If you’re lucky enough to attend any of the big Swiss watch shows like Geneva Watch Days, WatchTime New York might have comparatively little to offer. In this sense, I’m spoiled. But still, it was great to see some of the new releases again, as well as spend more time with icons from previous years.
WatchTime also provides an excellent opportunity to talk with brand representatives and give them direct feedback. They might even drop a hint about what’s to come next year, if you’re lucky. For instance, I spent some time at the Gerald Charles stall and finally got the chance to understand the brand in more depth. I learned that Gerald Charles was the last brand founded by the late design icon Gérald Genta. In fact, the brand uses his first and middle names! While the aesthetics are very different from what we have seen from him in the past, it’s in keeping with his ever-changing philosophy to reinvent himself and his designs.
While I’d already seen the new Armin Strom release at a previous event, it was great to try the One Week First Edition on again. I could go on and on about brands like Czapek, Bremont, or Piaget, but sadly, I don’t have enough space here.
WatchTime New York: Where Swiss Precision Meets American Ease
Instead, let me just say that for someone who spends a lot of time in Geneva at watch events, it was a breath of fresh air to be at WatchTime New York. While the setup is similar, the atmosphere is much more laid back than anything we have in Europe. I know it sounds hard to believe, but I’ve felt it every time I visit the show. I don’t know whether it’s the city’s charm or the people who come to the event that make it so.
In any case, the attendees are more open to discussing brands and sharing their enthusiasm about specific models. Everyone is delighted to see all the beautiful timepieces in the same space and talk to like-minded people. Isn’t that what it’s all about? Sharing the common love we have for watches and the industry? I certainly think so.