Watches & Wonders is the latest high-end show for collectors to have landed in Miami. Presented in the Miami Design District shopping mecca, the show is expected to draw the same type of high-level aficionados that have made Art Basel and Design Miami the must-attend events for serious art and design. Boutique firms like Vacheron Constantin and Van Cleef & Arpels as well as smaller prestigious names like F.P. Journe and Armin Strom will present their latest creations, while Hublot’s watchmakers will be on hand to show how the timepieces and movements are expertly assembled. Other events include an exhibition of exceptional timepieces from Phillips auction house and a seminar on collecting by Paul Boutros, Phillips’ Head of Watches for the Americas. Craig Robins—the art collector, philanthropist, and real estate developer behind the Miami Design District—reveals why he created Watches & Wonders and why it could be Miami’s next big thing.
Why did you decide to produce Watches & Wonders Miami?
We developed a strategy to make the Miami Design District a unique epicenter for fine watches, and fine jewelry. That kind of location doesn’t exist in many places in the world. The thought was that if someone who’s in South America, or around the United States, or in Miami, wants to go see the best of the best, they can fly or drive to one destination. Now, a big part of what we’re doing is also developing content around this oasis of art, design, and architecture. We collaborated with Art Basel. We founded Design Miami, the furniture show. It’s really about making these physical places more potent. When SIHH (Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie) offered to collaborate with us, we got very excited. We want to continue to put the permanent stores on the map, and have moments where we celebrate fine watches and high jewelry. If we can do with watches and jewelry in Miami what we did with art and design, that’s the dream.
Who do you expect at the show?
Collectable consumers. The [Miami Design District’s] Concours car show and the yacht and boat shows will be happening at the same time in Miami. So you’re going to be able to not only see collectible high jewelry and watches, but also an amazing collection of cars and yachts. This is a great Miami moment—it’s the perfect combination of the city’s fun and beauty with more serious content that I feel is really potent for us.
Do you have plans already in the works to make this a yearly event?
I think our goal would be to do something that’s so wonderful that we have no choice but to do it next year.
Why is Miami such a hot market for watches and jewelry?
It’s a city which has not only the sex appeal, the sizzle, the nightlife, the sun and the beach, but it’s also a global city of cultural substance. We’ve really proven that with the architecture, the art collections, the art events, and the design. Design Miami is the one of the biggest platforms in the world for collectable furniture design. When Art Basel came, we really began to showcase ourselves as this cultural destination. Of course, the design and engineering that goes into fine watches and high jewelry is perfectly on-brand for what Miami’s become.
There are a number of smaller brands who don’t own boutiques in the Design District that will be exhibiting. How did you select them?
SIHH has led the process. Obviously, having a critical base of the best fine watchmakers and high-jewelry brands in the world was a good platform. We wanted to augment that so anyone else who was on the same level, could have the opportunity even though they don’t have stores.
Do you collect watches yourself?
I’m a budding collector of watches; I’m learning about it and going slowly. Watches are really cool, especially when you start to see the special things, the model behind them. You’re seeing for the first time in the world, outside of Geneva. There’s such creativity that goes into them. As a person who’s enthusiastic about art and design, I feel I have a natural connection.
What do you think will be some of the highlights of the weekend?
I’m looking forward to being able to walk around on Saturday and see all these master sessions with watchmakers underway and then walk down the street to see a hundred of the most beautiful classic cars in the world.