Lavish dinners, spectacular shows and a host of celebrities mark the SIHH events as brands celebrate years of watchmaking traditions At this year's Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) held last month in Geneva, the 16 participating watch brands lavishly entertained customers, fans and retailers. Dinner parties with artistic performances to introduce the story and spirit of new watches proved a popular brand promotion strategy. Souvenirs such as perfume, fine chocolates, leather bags, wallets and diaries were presented. Watch brand Van Cleef & Arpels surprised guests by giving away telescopes to celebrate its Midnight tourbillon collection. Montblanc, held a dinner party and show which were attended by 1,300 guests. Created and designed by theatre director, designer and visual artist Robert Wilson and with music by world-renowned composer Philip Glass, the performance entitled Writing Time, marked the world premiere of the brand's Star Nicholas Rieussec Monopusher Chronograph, the first Montblanc watch with its own movement. Montblanc brand ambassadors, mainland actress Li Bing-bing, French actress Eva Green, and supermodels Sylvie van der Vaart and Claudia Schiffer, as well as Hollywood actress Joan Collins and her husband Percy Gibson, were among the VIP guests. Audemars Piguet presented its Millenary collection through the theme Oval Time: a time of affinity and happiness at its grand gala dinner. Each guest was photographed and their pictures exhibited on a huge collage that captured the moment in time. Dance company Motus Modules performed an aerial ballet representing a suspension of time. Actress Michelle Yeoh, brand ambassador for Audemars Piguet, and a host of celebrities, including skiers Manfred Moelgg and Giorgio Rocca and golfer Nora Angehrn were among the guests. Swiss watch brand IWC Schaffhausen's gala event 'The Crossing' treated the audience to a theatrical performance of Minutes of a Separation. Starring Cate Blanchett on screen and Joseph Fiennes in a live performance, the multimedia show was produced by the Sydney Theatre Company. To mark the brand's 140th anniversary, the evening took guests back to the early days of IWC. A theatre performance of The Crossing told the tale of a young American engineer and watchmaker Florentine Ariosto Jones who wanted to combine the tradition of Swiss watchmaking with American industrial expertise and how he left his home town Boston to travel to Switerzland. In 1868, after a long and eventful journey, he finally arrived in Schaffhausen in northern Switzerland, and achieved his goal. More than 1,700 guests, including Oscar winning actor Kevin Spacey, Taiwanese singer David Tao, pop singer, composer and playwright Dick Lee, and supermodel Elle Macpherson attended the event. In its 18th year, SIHH 2008 attracted a record 14,000 visitors from around the world, 8 per cent more than last year. Watch brands reported brisk trade at their booths. Unaffected by an unstable global economy, Asia emerged as an important market with an overwhelming number of visitors from Japan, Hong Kong, mainland China and Singapore. A presentation by German watch brand A. Lange & Sohne featured a 360-degree projected picture of 18th century Dresden where the brand originated. Swiss solo sailing legend Bernard Stamm, Parmigiani's sporting ambassador, appeared to promote the brand's new collection for this year. Mr Stamm is known for his excellent weather analyses, smart decision making and strong character. He shares the same philosophy with Parmigiani - he handmade his yacht and the brand self-manufactures its watches. Baume & Mercier expressed its ilea women's collection through a contemporary dance performance, while Jean-Marc Pontroue, executive vice-president product strategies & development of Montblanc International, added a nice touch by greeting journalists from Hong Kong and Singapore a warm 'jo sun'.