A group of Swiss watchmakers is embarking on a retail experiment that promises to upend any notions of the trade as old-fashioned.
Free and open to the public now through July 25th, the immersive retail initiative, called ARcadium, is an experiential pop-up at New York City’s Hudson Yards involving eight storied brands, all owned by the Richemont Group: Cartier, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Montblanc, Panerai, Piaget, Vacheron Constantin and Van Cleef & Arpels.
Offering a mix of analog and digital experiences, from workshops and discussions to tech demonstrations and augmented and virtual reality sessions, the pop-up is designed to familiarize younger buyers with the stories of the participating brands. In most cases, the only opportunity to see products will be virtual.
ARcadium is centered on a temporary lounge space at The Shops & Restaurants at Hudson Yards, on the 4th floor of the complex. The main draw will be an augmented reality room papered with custom illustrations by the New York-based artist Justin Teodoro. Upon entering, visitors will be handed an iPad they can use to explore various brand worlds, each designed to immerse them in a discrete environment.
Outside the room, in the lounge area, each brand will invite guests into a tech-enhanced space tailored to its products:
- Montblanc’s display is dedicated to its Summit 2 smartwatch.
- Van Cleef & Arpels invites visitors to try out a digitally augmented, interactive mirror to explore its iconic Alhambra collection.
- Cartier offers a virtual, interactive look into its craftsmanship via the creation of the Santos watch at the Cartier Manufacture in Switzerland.
- IWC Schaffhausen presents a 4-D virtual and augmented reality experience dedicated to “The Road Less Traveled.”
- Vacheron Constantin unveils the Chronogram Impact project, which takes visitors on a journey through the manufacture’s original archives, spanning 264 years of watchmaking.
- Panerai shuttles visitors below the sea using the Oculus virtual reality headset to learn about the inspiration behind its Submersible collection.
- Jaeger-LeCoultre presents a virtual and interactive “On the Wrist” application to try-on, discover, and snap photos with a wide array of timepieces.
A few brands will also hold dedicated events during ARcadium. Jaeger-LeCoultre, for example, will host a watchmaker from its Madison Avenue boutique at its brand space on Saturday, July 20 from 10 am–9 pm. According to a representative, that is the only day on which the brand will have tangible product displayed. The theme of the exhibition is tied to the brand’s 2019 focus on the “Art of Precision.”
Advance, timed ticketing for ARcadium is currently available through Eventbrite.