My apologies for the delay in posting this, but with a conference in London after my Geneva visit and catching up with work, I finally got all the photos done and the text edited. So here it is:
Well, SIHH is over for another year and no doubt preparations are under way for next year. This 260th anniversary of the oldest watch Maison was a spectacular one in which some really fascinating pieces were produced, both from a technical and an artistic viewpoint. The design team, led by Vincent Kaufmann and the watchmaking team really outdid themselves this year. Reaching back to the history of Vacheron watches in the previous century for inspiration and designing a new chronograph movement, they created the Harmony Collection, the new Metiers d’Art table clock with its constant-force escapement and several beautifully engraved Metiers d’Art watches. All the departments at Vacheron met their challenges in great synchrony. No wonder the collection is called “Harmony”.
The new Harmony Chronograph, Reference 5300S is a modern-day interpretation of the 1928 doctors’ chronograph – larger with a beautiful updated case and dial. The latter displays a new in-house font for the numerals, and a monopoussoir control. The Caliber 3300 movement is really a design and engineering tour de force and not without its artistic touches, such as the engraved balance cock and the integration of the Vacheron Maltese Cross in the movement (column wheel). It is a real joy to peruse this movement with a loop and discover its technical beauty. I had better start saving my pennies!
But I digress from the main thrust of this post.
I have been going to the SIHH exhibitions for many years now and aspect that stands out as much as the timepieces is the people one meets, the creative, dedicated and very likeable people at Vacheron-Constantin but also those co-attendees that one meets from year to year and with whom one becomes lifelong friends.
This year Vacheron decided to officially invite spouses as well. For me, having Gale at the dinner and the Manufacture enabled her to see what goes into making these “haute horologie” watches and to better understand my passion for them.
The one disadvantage to this concept was that the number of participants increased significantly necessitating two groups. Many of those that I had met previously were in the second group and with the time constraints, it was impossible to see them. Others such as Francois Morin, Robert Esposito and Tony Chance couldn’t be there this year. Others still, with whom I have conversed on the Hour Lounge, I look forward to meeting in the future. But here is always next year.
Vacheron also tried a new experiment…to have the dinner in a private residence. Although this change precluded a visit to the Vacheron museum at the Boutique and seeing the chronograph history exhibition, welcoming and warm (chaleureux) setting and a fantastic meal prepared by a young (28) and very talented chef, Benjamin Luzuy and his team more than compensated. It was a convivial environment and allowed people to mix freely, renew old acquaintances and make new friends.
Before each course, Benjamin described the food, its origin and methods of preparation. I think this small but personal touch really enhanced the enjoyment of each course.
I was fortunate and honoured to be seated next to Vincent Kaufmann, head of design, and was therefore able to discuss watch design, Vacheron history at some length. He even hinted that SIHH was just the beginning for their 260th year. More things to come!
But I was also able to renew my friendship with Gary Getz and meet his lovely wife, Laurie; and meet two other Vacheron aficionados, Roland Berner and his very talented wife, Ruth and James Williams and his dad, who had connections to western Canada through the oil industry. James was wearing his birthday gift, a stunning rose gold Traditionelle…a real beauty.
Unfortunately it was impossible to meet everyone (there were two tables) and get to know them and that is a good reason for a return visit.
There was further mingling at the Manufacture the next day, which allowed Gale and I to spend some time with Dan and Daisy Shao, and Lin Nin and Marie-France, who we met in previous years and who have become good friends .
Visiting the Manufacture and participating in the various workshops is a terrific yet humbling experience. Terrific because it allows you to see the various aspects of the process of designing and manufacturing a fine watch with all the many steps involved; humbling because you see how talented the people at Vacheron are in their métier and how much of a klutz you are in trying to emulate them. But the staff were all very friendly and gracious and took all our bumbling efforts in their stride.
At this point I want to extend a huge thanks to Alex, for a fantastic job of organization and for being such a great host. I have known Alex since he was Vacheron moderator on the Purists site and I was a lowly newbie. He was kind and welcoming then and continues to be a diplomat par excellence, a very knowledgeable moderator and leader on the Hour Lounge always treating people with great respect and friendliness and a wonderful person and friend.
I want to extend a great thanks to Veronique Briand as well (who I’ve known since 2006 on my first visit to Vacheron with a Timezone tour), who made everything go so smoothly. She works tirelessly behind the scenes to make the experience at Vacheron a truly memorable one.
The visit to the Palexpo site of SIHH was as always exciting. The anticipation of seeing new watches has not diminished over the years. And this year, seeing the Harmony collection, the collection of table clocks, many by Vacheron in conjunction Verger Freres and the new rock-crystal constant force clock was an added bonus.
Vacheron has never disappointed in all the years I’ve gone to the SIHH and will, I’m sure, continue with amazing and surprising watches. It has a great history as inspiration and a first class team to continue its design and innovation.
I had hoped to spend some time chatting with Julien Marchenoir, Christian Selmoni and Dominique Bernaz but their own very busy schedules barely permitted a quick “Comment ça va? “, and a very brief chat. I did see Bill Lind, a charming and good friend, the Vacheron moderator on the Purists site, but alas only for a few moments. (I hope he has “weathered” the “temps mauvais” that has just afflicted the north-east.)
There were a few others I would like to acknowledge, Jean-Yves de Martino from the Paris Boutique and Celine LaRose from the London Boutique. They have treated me extremely well this past year and it is only fitting that I mention them and thank them for their kindness. I hope to see them again soon
But all in all, it was great visit. The people at Vacheron, despite a hectic schedule, have always succeeded in providing an excellent experience.
I have to add that over the years the people I have met through the Hour Lounge, at SIHH and at the Vacheron Boutiques have made a marked impression on me. They are a varied group of professionals, very informed, knowledgeable about more than just watches, funny, interesting, gracious.and kind. And through many little things they have contributed enormously to making my life much more enjoyable.
Master chef Benjamin Lusuy describes some the on-going preparations for the dinner
Marie-France and Lin look on and listen to hie explanations
The beautiful dining room of this stunning home awaiting the arrival of the guests
Gary Getz meeting one of the Loungers. In the background, Dan and Daisy Shao share a bit of humour with Nina.
Alex, our fearless leader makes a welcoming toast.
Some of the guests look at our table
Roland Berner and his wife Ruth, a wonderful couple.
My wife, Gale and Anna Robin, head of Client Marketing for Vacheron
Two tourbillons in perfect "Harmony"