Watch lovers, it’s time to don pants again. After more than 18 months of Zoom meetups and virtual events, the Swiss watch industry is on the brink of returning to in-person get-togethers. “For over a year, just about every physical show has been canceled,” says Rich Park, founder of LA MicroLux, a two-day watch exhibition that opens at Grand Central Market in downtown Los Angeles on November 6. “People can’t wait to get out and engage with like-minded friends and collectors in a safe environment.” He could say that again!
Below, we preview the six biggest watch events on the fall 2021 calendar:
WatchTime New York: October 22 to 24
When the sixth edition of WatchTime New York opens at Gotham Hall in midtown Manhattan on Oct. 22 (with a cocktail party sponsored by Tourneau-Bucherer, no less), the famed collector’s event will span three days instead of its customary two, not only to encourage more socially distant, spaced-out attendance but also to allow more time for the show’s popular panel discussion series. “We have four hot topic panel discussions, including our first all-female panel, which is covering a timely topic of how watches are marketed to women and the watches they actually want to buy,” says WatchTime publisher Sara Orlando.
In between visits with the 28 exhibiting watch brands — including stalwarts such as Grand Seiko, A. Lange & Söhne, Glashütte Original and Zenith, as well as newcomers Chopard, Laurent Ferrier, Massena LAB and Norqain, all of whom will be showcasing new timepieces — attendees will be able to mingle with collectors, designers, brand executives and other leading figures from the watch world. Open to the public by paid admission (with each date ticketed individually to give attendees greater flexibility in devising their itineraries), the show is a must-attend event for any and all collectors in the Tri-State area (and beyond).
Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève Ceremony in Geneva: November 4
It may be a cliché to describe the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève ceremony as the horological equivalent of the Oscars, but no other analogy better conveys the event’s industry-wide importance. Taking place on a Thursday evening in early November at Geneva’s Théâtre du Léman, the 21st GPHG ceremony sees major brands vie alongside independent artisans to win honors in 14 categories that cover the watchmaking spectrum, including “ladies’ complication,” calendar and astronomy, chronograph, artistic crafts and “petite aiguille,” a designation for watches that retail between 4,000 to 10,000 Swiss francs. The fact that two of the industry’s biggest players, Rolex and Patek Philippe, are noticeably absent from the competition may actually be good news for oddsmakers: All bets are off!
Phillips’ Geneva Watch Auction: XIV: November 5 and 7
Phillips’ upcoming Geneva watch sale, staged in association with Bacs & Russo at la Réserve in Geneva, is chock full of the market’s most desirable timepieces. From a quartet of “mindboggling” Philippe Dufour watches — the Grande & Petite Sonnerie pocket watch, Grande & Petite Sonnerie wristwatch, Duality and Simplicity—to a collection of five F.P. Journe “Souscription” wristwatches, each numbered 1, the lineup is headlined by a historically important, museum quality Rolex “Deep Sea Special” in stainless steel and gold estimated to fetch as much as 2.4 million Swiss francs (about $2.6 million). Manufactured in 1965, the ultra-deep dive wristwatch with center seconds “is the watch that defined what Rolex is today,” says Alexandre Ghotbi, the auction house’s head of watches for Continental Europe and the Middle East. “Without the Deep Sea Special there would be no Submariner or Sea Dweller as we know it. The DSS is a watch that was never available for public purchase and the arrival on the market of an example is a once in a decade event for collectors and watch aficionados to celebrate.”
LA MicroLux: November 6 to 7
Last fall, MicroLux was the first major watch event to transform into a virtual gathering when it broadcast three days of in-depth watch content from a studio in West Hollywood. This year, the 2-year-old event returns to an in-person format at a new location, downtown L.A.’s famed Grand Central Market. The 8,000-square foot event space will play host to more than 20 exhibitors, a mix of up-and-coming mainstream brands such as Norqain and respected independent makers such as Itay Noy. “MicroLux’s intention is to bring both mainstream and the best independent watch brands together under one roof,” says organizer Rich Park, founder of the Whatsonthewrist YouTube channel. “People said it couldn’t be done, that the two could not co-exist, and we’ve proved them wrong.” The event also welcomes a new presenting sponsor, the Los Angeles-based watch retailer Westime, which will bring a selection of pre-owned watches from its Beverly Hills boutique, home to a new floor dedicated to pre-owned timepieces. “We’re excited to return to Los Angeles,” says Park, “and given our new proposed high traffic venue, our November 2021 event should attract well over 1,000 watch enthusiasts.”
Dubai Watch Week: November 24 to 28
The fifth edition of Dubai Watch Week, the watch industry’s premier non-commercial international event, takes place during the week of Thanksgiving, but don’t let that stop you from booking a ticket. Founded in 2015 by the retailer Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons, the free event welcomes more than 45 leading watch brands — the highest number of exhibitors to date, including such marquee names as Rolex, Audemars Piguet, Tudor, Hublot and Chopard. “The significance of Dubai Watch Week 2021 is apparent now more than ever, for the industry, and the economy,” says Hind Seddiqi, director-general of Dubai Watch Week. “Visitors can anticipate stand-alone booths from five brands who will have unique spaces on site. Dubai Watch Week will also launch a Collector’s Lounge, a unique space set to unite collectors and connoisseurs to discuss the latest watch launches and happenings in the industry. The lounge will also feature limited editions created by Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the U.A.E.” If you’re looking to take the temperature of the global watch market or get a sense of what to expect in 2022, there is no better place to do your research.
The OAK Collection at the Design Museum in London: December 10 to 16
Catch one of the world’s largest private collections of Patek Philippe timepieces at the Design Museum in London in mid-December before it jets off an around-the-world tour. The privately owned OAK (“One-of-A-Kind”) Collection represents the culmination of four decades of watch collecting. Anchored by one of the largest assortments of Patek Philippe Henry Graves Jr. watches outside the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva, the lineup also includes exemplary models by Rolex, F.P. Journe and independent makers such as Kari Voutilainen. Combining both vintage and contemporary watches, the collection spans virtually every major collecting category, including chronographs, enameled timepieces and perpetual calendars. If you’re looking to level up your own collection, there’s no better role model.