There is a well established event in London which showcases luxury watches, that one being Salon QP, which is a kind of Rich Kids of Mayfair type of show, a kind of Tutankamen homage to horology, with timepieces largely entombed in thick glass, to be adored and worshipped. Beautiful, but remote.
There is an alternative show however, which takes place in London at the Intercontinental Hotel, 02 Arena, on April 3rd-4th this year. Again, it is going to concentrate on the Swiss luxury end of the market, since this is where the big money is within watch retailing and collecting, but the organisers say there will be entry level watches to buy as well.
As a bonus, you get a few supercars to look at, plus the confirmed exhibitors page lists plenty of independent watch dealers, repair specialists, and a few non-watch companies like bespoke furniture, wealth management consultants etc. Watch security? Our advice is always buy a heavy safe and bolt it down when it comes to watch storage, plus don’t brag on social media with wrist photos etc.
The USP of this show is the public access it offers, compared to Salon QP, and that is to be admired. Watch collecting is elitist enough without separating wealthy people from the common herd, as if we are all lesser beings. This show also offers the chance for relative novices in the world of watch collecting to increase their knowledge – always ask technical questions, people in the trade can always politely say they don’t know either!
GET SERVICING ADVICE BEFORE YOU BUY
Swiss watch repairs are getting harder to do, as the manufacturers slowly but surely put the independent repair shops out of business by restricting spares supply, demanding 60K upfront to buy tools and training etc. There are still lots of skilled people who can service and repair a 25 year old Rolex Daytona, but what they cannot do is obtain a genuine winder and crown for it – Rolex will not sell those spare parts to the trade.
So it makes sense to find out whether your next Swiss watch purchase will have to be sent away to an authorised marque service centre, where they will effectively refurbish that watch – with many parts replaced, even if you didn’t ask for them to be swapped. Some collectors value original patina, faded hands and hour markers etc – it tells a story of genuine wear, whereas a mint 1970s chronograph can look too clean sometimes, almost like a replica.
The show has on-site insurance valuations, plus trade stands selling accessories like straps and bracelets. You’ll find plenty of advice on the latest collecting trends, what’s hot and what’s not. It isn’t a cheap day out at £45 per ticket, but if you consider how much a decent vintage watch in fully serviced condition can cost, then it is a good investment before you spend say 5K on an original Zenith El Primero, or Heuer Autavia.
If you’re feeling lucky then there’s a raffle to win a brand new Daytona worth 20K, with tickets costing £50 each. Ticket bookings and more info here.