This year, apart from Girard-Perregaux and Ulysse Nardin, what are the other indie brands that will join SIHH’s Carre des Horlogers for 2017 edition?

Five independent brands are joining the Carré des Horlogers this year. They are Grönefeld, MCT–Manufacture Contemporaine du Temps, Ressence, RJ-Romain Jérôme and Speake-Marin. The Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie {SIHH} 2017 will thus present a total of 30 exhibitors - 17 historic maisons and 13 contemporary creators – to offer an excellent representation of fine watchmaking today.

Girard-Perregaux to show at SIHH 2017

How well received do you think SIHH 2016 was by including independent watchmakers as Carre des Horlogers for the first time?

As you probably know, this is something the SIHH Exhibitor Committee had been discussing for years. And, of course, when the SIHH first began, for many editions it welcomed independent watchmakers. I personally see this as a legitimate and entirely logical development. Logical, because these brands are present in Geneva during SIHH week anyway, to take advantage of the many professionals invited by the fair's exhibiting brands. And legitimate, because they are representative of what's known as "new watchmaking", namely a generation of creators who contribute their vision of the profession. Their presence adds to and strengthens the aura of the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie, which perhaps has never lived up to its name so well. Hence we can safely say that the Carré des Horlogers enjoyed a successful first year.

How is the slowdown in Swiss luxury watch sales influencing the roles and purposes of watch fairs today?

Trade fairs have a vital role to play when the economy is slowing, because they are precisely that: for the trade. Exhibitors use them to take the temperature of the profession and then adapt production to their order books. Then it's up to them to adjust their offering to reflect the economic climate and development time, which for watches is generally calculated in years. It's a tricky but essential exercise. That said, this is neither the first nor the last time Swiss watchmakers have faced a slowdown, and fairs haven't disappeared because of it. On the contrary: new fairs are opening all around the globe.

For next year’s SIHH, the exclusive fair will also open its doors to the public for one day, what are the motivations behind this decision? What benefits do you foresee would come? 

Until now, the SIHH has been a private, invitation-only trade event for retailers, distributors and the media. With one exception: on the very last day, the exhibiting maisons have traditionally invited their staff and suppliers to share the work of their combined efforts. It seemed only natural to go a step further and open the SIHH to the public. This is something admirers of fine watches have been pushing for. And for the brands, it's equally important for them to meet their end customers, and introduce them to their world and products. The experience that emerged from the first three editions of Watches&Wonders in Hong Kong, which features the majority of the SIHH brands, also played a part as it is designed for public connoisseurs. As you can see, the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie is pursuing a policy of openness.

Want more articles like this? Follow STYLE on Facebook