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"Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without." - Confucius

SalonQP was held in London for the fifth time, with the participation of over 70 watch brands. Watch fanatics had the chance to meet several traditional “Maisons” as well as many pioneering companies.

The location was the Saatchi Gallery, established in 1985 by British business man Charles Saatchi, the co-founder of the Saatchi & Saatchi agency. The Gallery is one of London’s definitive art venues ever since.

The brands exhibited in several rooms on the 3-storeys of the gallery; in addition to the Harrods Lounge and a preview of “Fine Watches and Wristwatches” sale from Bonhams, the ground floor was home to several classics including Jaeger-LeCoultre,  Vacheron Constantin,  Chopard,  Piaget and Hermés. On the first and second floors visitors could see numerous independent, progressive brands such as Manufacture Royal, Zeitwinkel, Urwerk as well as the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie “Horology, a Child of Astronomy” exhibition.

On Friday and Saturday the SalonQP also offered seminars for those interested in a more in-depth view into the world of fine watchmaking.

At one of the presentations, Creative Director of Vacheron Constantin Christian Selmoni gave an overview of the main stations of the 250 year-old manufacture, from the ultra-slim and openwork movements to outlining the future.

Mr. Selmoni launched the presentation with two icons. One, the Tour de L’ile is the most complicated double-face watch, in a limited edition of 7 pieces. Tour De L’Ile has sixteen different complications including a minute repeater, sunset time, perpetual calendar, second time zone, a tourbillon device, and the equation of time and the representation of the night sky. The other is the Saint Gervais, created for the 25-year anniversary. It is a “Grande Complication” watch, power reserve with 250 hours guaranteed by four barrels coupled with a tourbillon regulator and a perpetual calendar mechanism. Saint Gervais represents the brand’s philosophy about watchmaking.

One of the main aspirations of the Maison is ensuring their independence. Currently 80% of the movements are manufactured in-house and naturally the goal is to have their own movement working in every single Vacheron watch.  Vacheron Constantin has committed to the Geneva hallmark, thus they place great emphasis on complying with the new standards of the Poinçon de Genève. Regarding the new regulations not only does a watchmaker have to prove excellence in its movement, it must also pass quality control tests carried out on the watch itself and all of its functions.

The company is known for high complications, these calibres have a separate workshop where only those watchmakers are allowed to work that have over 15 years of experience in the field of fine watchmaking. These experts work with up to 1200 different tools on a complicated movement and in many cases create even the tools themselves. The artistic decoration of the movements is a separate area of expertise; the Maison holds a unique, 18-month in-house course for the engravers.

Mr. Salmoni highlighted several movements from the company’s history; the Calibre 2755, which is an exceptional calibre featuring a minute repeater, a tourbillon and a perpetual calendar, the Calibre 2253 with 336-hour power reserve or the Calibre 2260 featured in the Patrimony Traditionelle 14-day Tourbillon.

One of the exclusive services of Vacheron Constantin is the “Atelier Cabinotiers”. This department produces unique timepieces, entirely custom-made and created on an individual commission basis.  “Our custom-made watches are surrounded by secrecy and confidentiality”- their manifesto states. It is an interesting contradiction that many pieces are often thus created that the house would gladly showcase to the public, that however end up in a collector’s private collection…

Patrimony Traditionelle 14 day Tourbillion

On the contrary to Vacheron Constantin, Breva is a truly young company from Geneva; it popped from the head of Vincent Dupontreué in 2010, who was celebrating his 33rd birthday at the time.

He develops the Breva watches in partnership with award-winning movement constructor, Jean-François Mojon (Chronode). A weekend on Lake Como gave the inspiration for the name ‘Breva’. It derives from ‘la Breva’, a warm southern wind contributing to the mild microclimate around Lake Como in Northern Italy. Breva creates timepieces with complications to monitor your environment. The Génie 01 monitors the world with a weather forecasting barometer plus an altimeter. As an avid fan of sunshine, I have great sympathy for the slogan of the Génie 01: “It’s sunny on your wrist no matter the weather!”  It is a limited edition of 55 pieces in white gold and 55 pieces in pink gold. This is the first mechanical watch with a barometer for forecasting the weather.

Richard Hoptroff, the founder of Hoptroff hasn’t walked a “traditional” road in the field of watchmaking.  He successfully cooperated with software developer and tech companies and his watchmaking philosophy is similar too; he focuses on efficiency, functionality and unique solutions.

The No. 8 works like a discrete personal assistant to its wearer; the sub-dial at 6 o’clock indicates the time of your next appointment whereas the hand in the 12 o’clock sub-dial points to the first letter of the wearer’s next appointment’s title.

The No. 9 not only gives the date and time, but also keeps track of selected shares. A piece digital technology inside keeps the timepiece in conversation with ADVFN (a financial market website) – providing real time London Stock Exchange & AIM share rates.

Maybe the most interesting one is the No. 10, the first watch to be regulated by its own atomic clock. It is not to be confused with radio-receiving watches; this piece actually contains a caesium gas chamber inside a temperature controlled oven, a laser to excite the atoms and a microwave resonator to measure their atomic transitions in order to measure time.  It is accurate to one and a half seconds per thousand years. The brand cooperated with the Symmetricom atomic clock equipment maker firm in the production. Due to the current limitations of this unique technology, the No. 10 has the shape of a larger pocket watch.


Photo credits: Vacheron Constantin, Breva, Hoptroff, Loupiosity.com.
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