All of the recognised brands that have confirmed their presence give a strong signal to the range of independent and promising labels that will be in Neuchâtel: Besides its geographical legitimacy, the Imagination fair is already playing the role of an independence booster in the industry.
The opportunity for a brand to retail timepieces during this trade show, in agreement with its local distributor or dealer, should be the ultimate argument to remove any form of hesitation among the reluctants. A damn affordable way to cover the costs of the exhibition and to have a profitable public appearance at no extra cost.
Moreover, for many brands, the idea of confronting these local populations to whom they owe everything, and who are often ignored by the major channels, is a unique characteristic that is worth the move.
Independence is on the up
At a time when independent watch brands are experiencing an unprecedented boom, at a time when increasingly international brands are realising that their “terroir” roots are becoming such a vital argument that they systematically end up claiming their local suppliers to their customers, the “neutral” provenance of Imagination’s organisers makes a difference. It allows those who are annoyed by the conflicts of interest, the cronyism and other informal alliances that either exclude them from the agreed-upon circuits or force them to pledge allegiance to the biggest, to build a serene and secure “exhibitional” future.
Neuchâtel, the undeniable assets of Imagination
It is high time to decide to restore its prestige to this original cradle from which the whole industry draws its flavour, its production power and its historical legitimacy: Neuchâtel city, halfway between Biel, the Vallée de Joux and Geneva, Neuchâtel canton, a territory at the heart of a watchmaking arc including the Jura and Le Locle, and even crossing the borders.
Added to this are the unmistakable delights of the chosen location, its international postcard-like harbour shores, its privatised Beaulac Hotel facing the museum esplanades of a building housing the Jaquet Droz automatons.
(Read below, the topic ‘Opinion’)
New inscriptions in progress
This central hub can, from 2022 and for the years to come, pull a long-term card out of its sleeve. A “heart” asset. So obvious that no brand should refrain from participating, even if other appearances are unquestionably necessary. Especially as the sale of a few pieces in Neuchâtel, in this magical surroundings, would easily cover the exhibitor’s costs.
About forty players have already realised it, the others brands are still feeling their way. And what if, in this scene where followership is the rule, a sudden burst of energy from a powerful group in Biel could change the game?
Some of the brands registered at Imagination
Elka Watch (by Hakim El Kadiri)
Narbel & Co
Vincent Calabrese (Co-founder in 1985 of the AHCI Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants)
(to be continued)
Opinion: Neuchâtel, loin des conflits d’intérêt
The debacle of Baselworld and the huge draught that followed the confinement have regenerated the existing exhibition projects. Thus SIAR, the Mexican trade fair, has been offered a second date in June 2022. Similarly, Dubai Watch Week has never been so associated with a global celebration of watchmaking.
Apart from the recent Time To Watches, which was held in Geneva as an independent event during the former SIHH, it is clear that Watches & Wonders is the preserve of the “Richemont Group”, with which the all-powerful Rolex has been associated, and that the Geneva Watch Days originate from the leading spirit of a great captain of the sector, the ebullient Jean-Christophe Babin, CEO of the Bulgari Group.
Is this confirmation that informal links are indeed possible? How else to explain the fact that the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie hosted three LVMH Group brands, TAG Heuer and Zenith, at its last exhibition in March 2022, while leaving the fourth, Bulgari, “on the sidelines”? Some observers, and I belong to them, interpret this as a “counter-measure” towards the Bulgari brand which, as indirect concurrence, remains at the origin of the Geneva Watch Days launched in the midst of the COVID turmoil.