There was once a time when a trade fair was just that: a trade fair. In today’s business climate that is no longer what they strictly are. Now the “trade fairs” of the watch world are morphing into opportunities for brands to make what was once the introduction of the year’s new timepieces into a PR opportunity that extends well across the borders of the business side of things.
And don’t get me wrong: not every aspect of this is a bad evolution. One of the fun side effects is that major celebrities now visit the SIHH under the auspices of brand “ambassadorism.” And I can tell you from a personal stance that it’s not entirely awful to unexpectedly run into Pierce Brosnan on your way to the ladies room (see my interview with him at the 2017 SIHH here).
This year a plethora of celebrities visited the fair aside from second-timer Brosnan, among them Amanda Seyfried, Nicholas Hoult, and Daniel Brühl, all of whom were invited by Jaeger-LeCoultre to inspect the brand-new booth offering a wondrous composition of natural beauty meant to convey the peaceful surroundings of the brand’s home in Switzerland’s Vallée de Joux. The inspiring fair setting provided a great opportunity for visitors to converse with watchmakers, gem setters, enamelers, and other artisans, who were conducting their work at benches set up within the “forest.”
Seyfried wore the automatic 36 mm Jaeger-LeCoultre Rendez-Vous Night & Day Jewellery in gold with diamonds as she visited the booth. Hoult, who visited the factory in Le Sentier before continuing on to Geneva for the fair, wore the new limited edition Master Ultra Thin Perpetual Calendar, a beautiful watch offering a guilloche and blue enamel dial.
Brühl, a longtime Jaeger-LeCoultre aficionado, wore the new Reverso Tribute Duoface, which features reversible dials: one side a blue dial inspired by a historical version of this model, while the literal flip side with second time zone indication is outfitted with a silver dial. It is equipped with an interchangeable calfskin strap designed by famous Argentinian bootmaker Casa Fagliano. He accessorized his evening attire with the new limited edition Master Ultra Thin Moon Enamel.
Over at Montblanc’s nature-inspired booth combining natural wood, plant walls, and mountain views that included a real waterfall designed to give visitors the feeling of walking through a natural environment – and, yes, nature seemed to be something of a theme at the 2019 SIHH – Hugh Jackman wore an 1858 Geosphère. That same day he joined Montblanc CEO Nicolas Baretzki and Davide Cerrato, managing director of Montblanc watches, in a live public discussion entitled “Montblanc – A True Watchmaker” that recounted the brand’s journey toward integrating the 161-year-old Minerva brand and its history into the Montblanc structure. See Montblanc’s new Heritage-line watches here.
For many years, IWC has been the king of celebrity endorsements among the high-end watch manufacturers, and traditionally the fair Tuesday is when this brand brings in many of its ambassadors. This year these included big Hollywood stars Bradley Cooper (wearing a brand-new Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph Top Gun Ceratanium) and James Marsden with a just-launched new Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Top Gun Edition Mojave Desert on his wrist – my personal favorite from the new IWC offerings.
Also in attendance were Hollywood actors Rosamund Pike with a Portofino Automatic and Dev Patel wearing his own Pilot’s Watch (Reference IW327002), supermodels Karolina Kurkova (Pilot’s Watch Automatic 36) and Adriana Lima (Big Pilot’s Watch Heritage), Ronan Keating (Big Pilot’s Watch Spitfire) with his wife, professional brand ambassador Storm Keating (Portofino Automatic Moonphase 37), and Formula 1 driver David Coulthard, who was also wearing his own unidentified IWC watch.
And, of course, Piaget had invited some celebrities to the brand’s 2019 SIHH booth, which was decorated like a beach club. These included Chinese actor and singer Hu Ge, American entrepreneur Olivia Palermo, and Hollywood actor Michael B. Jordan, who is currently enjoying a great degree of fame from his role in Black Panther.