The globe’s more recherché luxury watch manufacturers are demonstrating very different brands of signature exclusivity with presentations at Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition (DJWE) 2016, which concludes on Saturday.
Organisers Elan Group noted that visitors to the world-leading exhibition at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre can discover the very latest generation of timepiece among dozens of celebrated marques, ranging from the connoisseur’s long-considered choice of this year to perennial, best-loved models.
“What we are seeing is that DJWE offers a very favourable climate for the flourishing of creative excellence in the field of horology,” said Ahmed al-Mulla, chief operations officer of Elan Entertainment. “The technical and innovative arts behind luxury men’s watches, in particular, are attracting more attention this year from collectors and aficionados.”
In a world of mass-produced luxury goods, the problem arises of how to distinguish one’s own highly valued timepiece from that of the crowd. George Bamford provides intricately personalised coating and engraving services for a range of steel sports watches. When Bamford found that his preferred branded watch was being worn by others at a dinner party, he talked to the R&D department of the family business and learned about a special coating used in the mining industry.
Thirteen years and several successful recipes later, he wears one of his own elaborately engraved watches and remains committed to the absolute personalisation of product, process and discovery.
“It is beyond limited edition,” says Bamford, “when there is just one such item made in the world, and made for no other person. We say: if you can imagine it – we can create it. We individualise each watch as a technical creation, a luxury item, which is then further enhanced to become a very high-quality product indeed in terms of absolute personalisation.
"We value our relationships with clients and partners, which are reaffirmed at events like DJWE. Our partners enable people to experience the thrill and pleasure of discovery, and help them discover just how much is possible.”
Bamford Watch Department works independently from the major watch brands in much the same way that Brabus might customise a Mercedes-Benz. Personalisation of an iconic sports watch can take as much as 130 hours. Such uplift would typically cost some tens of thousands of riyals, with a turnaround of 6-8 weeks, comparing favourably with the years that may be spent waiting for a hand-made.
George Bamford offers military-grade physical vapour deposition coatings and bespoke dial colour options, and the firm’s engravers have worked at Purdey (Guns) and Beretta.
For TAG Heuer, one of the best-known high-end watch brands in the world, DJWE 2016 has offered an opportunity to unveil a completely new watch, Connected, which will not be launched until later in the spring around the region.
TAG Heuer describes the new product as the world’s first luxury smart timepiece. The Connected watch features a 46-mm titanium case and textured rubber strap available in seven colours, along with three digital watch dials (known as faces) reproducing the appearance and function of a traditional dial from TAG Heuer's Carrera collection – including hands, index, counters, date window and minute track.
As a "smart watch", the Connected's applications are displayed inside three counters on the dial at 12, 6 and 9 o'clock. By touching the relevant counter, the watch owner can open the app to interact with it in "full screen" mode.
TAG Heuer worked with Intel and Google to create the smart functionality of the watch, which features an Intel Atom processor, Z34XX, and runs the Android Wear platform, with connectivity options including audio streaming, Bluetooth and WiFi.
The new watch also offers 4GB of memory, a microphone, lithium battery and water resistance for everyday use. At the end of the connected watch's two-year warranty period, customers can exchange it for an exclusive mechanical Swiss-made Carrera watch priced at $1,500.
Cabestan is a brand not so immediately recognised, but enjoys renown in the Gulf as a Swiss manufacturer of avant-garde timepieces that defy ordinary expectation.
Cabestan watches keep time precisely using a fusee and chain transmission system that is unlike the mechanism of any other watch. This technically unique quality sets Cabestan apart from other brands in a different way again, arresting the viewer’s attention with each timepiece on display with Al Bidaa at DJWE.
Cabestan’s latest innovation from 2015 is the Triple axis tourbillon in which the entire, unique mechanism runs visibly inside a polished sapphire crystal tube.
The watches and their components are designed, produced, decorated, hand-assembled and controlled in-house, and each model is produced in ultra-limited, personalised series, many of them as one-off creations.
Cabestan’s watchmaker Eric Coudray has already been awarded the Prix Gaia (Craftsmanship-Creation) by Musée Internationale Horlogerie, and continues with inimitable inventiveness to refine and innovate designs and technical solutions.
Fabergé at DJWE 2016 has presented the new Lady Compliquée Haute Horlogerie ladies' collection, upholding a tradition of surprise and meticulous execution with a spectacular time display inspired directly by Peter Carl Fabergé’s Peacock Imperial Easter Egg of 1908.
The integrated movement of the Lady Compliquée was created exclusively for Fabergé; the manually-wound, retrograde movement features four peacock’s tail feathers, each moving simultaneously but at different speeds, so telling the time in a uniquely poetic way.
Ladies’ watches are likewise the focus for Geneva-based watchmaker Roger Dubuis, specially showcasing the new Velvet Blossom Trilogy of ladies’ gem-set timepieces at this year’s edition of the DJWE.
Dubuis’ special attention to the exquisite trilogy arises not merely on behalf of a discerning female clientele, but because Velvet is recognised as the brand’s "big hero" collection of 2016, according to CEO Jean-Marc Pontroué.
Boucheron demonstrates a breathtaking collection of luxury watches such as the Epure, Reflet and Serpent Bohème collection, while Baume & Mercier highlights the elegant Classima collection, associated with the first academic or professional successes and the numerous natural ambitions of the up-and-coming generation.
Meanwhile, Italian luxury watch manufacturer Panerai presents a distinctive and unique selection of watches from its 2016 collection, launched in Geneva at the Salon International of Haute Horlogerie last January.
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