The Finest HOUR
Evanna Ramly explores an illustrious art, as seen at the inaugural ‘Watches & Wonders’ exhibition in Hong Kong.
Less than two minutes into a conversation with Montblanc CEO Jerome Lambert, I was pleased to discover we had something in common. “They only count 24 hours in a day; I would love to have at least 27 or 30,” he laughed. “‘Let’s change that.” Of course, regardless of how many hours one has in a day, the need for a statement timepiece is non-negotiable. And if ever there was an occasion to find the perfect one, this would certainly be it.
Montblanc was one of 13 watch marques at ‘ Watches & Wonders’, the first event of its kind in Asia. For five days, the vast interior of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre was transformed into a horological haven. Organised by Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie, it seems fitting that the exhibition should take place in the region’s Golden Egg, considering Asia is the number one market for Swiss watches. In 2012, exports to Hong Kong alone came up to RM14.3 billion, with China and Southeast Asia reaching RM5.6 billion and RM8.3 billion respectively. “‘Watches & Wonders’ provides a rare opportunity to meet the creators and craftsmen behind fine timepieces, and a chance to experience first-hand the cultural heritage of one of Europe’s most exquisite traditions,” said Fabienne Lupo, chairwoman and managing director of the foundation. For who better to demonstrate the timeless beauty of such intricacy than the watchmakers, engravers, enamellers, and gem-setters behind them?
Between the entrance and an inviting Perrier-Jouët lounge was the Richard Mille booth, where A-list faces were splashed across the walls as a nod to the brand’s star collaborations. Think Natalie Portman (hers in support of international charity Free The Children), Yohan Blake (his in striking shades of the Jamaican flag, with claws that mimic the shape of his hands as he runs), Michelle Yeoh, and Jackie Chan, who incidentally dropped by for a quick visit. Crowd pleasers included the stylishly sinister RM52-01 Skull Tourbillon and the whimsical RM26-01 Panda Tourbillon.
ATank MC Skeleton watch in palladium, Cartier
Across the h corridor, d Audemars Ad Piguet had arranged its Royal Oak Offshore collection atop rocks against a backdrop of the seaside. The only company still run by its founding families, it certainly made its mark here with grande complications as well as the Millenary Minute Repeater. Another point of interest: the collaboration with basketball legend and NBA MVP LeBron James.
Further down, friends of Montblanc Nick Cheung and Angela Baby showed off the Star Special Edition Carpe Diem, the Nicolas Rieussec Rising Hours, and the Villeret 1858 ExoTourbillon Rattrapante. “When you see the gold dial, the indicators of the chronograph, the enamelling, the infinite bridge of six angles,” said Lambert of the latter, “When you touch the chronograph and see how smooth it is, and the quality in the decoration, you’ll know why I like it.”
Next door at Baume & Mercier, I paused to reflect on the pages of Louis-Victor Baume’s 1830 diary, before changing the straps of the Linea from one colour to another. An intimate session later in the day provided the chance to get up close and personal with classics such as the Clifton Tourbillon, the Hampton, and the Capeland, all of which communicate a quiet sophistication.
Van Cleef & Arpels boasted a gate of wrought iron, in keeping with the poetic aesthetic of its pieces. Ladies were immediate fans of its romantic watches, featuring starry skies, kaleidoscopic butterflies, and graceful ballerinas. Of note: the Lady Arpels Ballerine Enchantée Poetic Complication, inspired by dancers the likes of La Camargo and Anna Pavlova, and the Charms Extraordinaires
Outside Piaget’s booth at ‘ Watches & Wonders’