Last week in Switzerland, the Swatch Group hosted its first-ever “Time to Move” event that heralded the brand’s departure from Baselworld (time to move) and its dedication to its own worldwide summit for the press. The event brought together the finest watch editors, journalists and bloggers from around the world for three days of total immersion into the six luxury brands that comprise Swatch Group: Blancpain, Breguet, Glashutte Original, Harry Winston, Jaquet Droz and Omega.
The event had been lauded as having a “rich” schedule. In fact, it was an intense but satisfying immersion. With the beautiful city of Lausanne playing home base for us, we traveled every day to different cities to experience each of the brands and to go hands-on with their newest watches of 2019. Day one for the American group (and Australians and Brits) brought us to the Vallee de Joux, where we visited the Blancpain and Breguet factories. On the second day, we traveled to Biel to visit Omega and then on to La Chaux-de-Fonds to visit Jaquet Droz. On the third day, we headed into Geneva for a tour through the wonderful house of Harry Winston (where the focus was on gem setting), and for an immersion into the German-based Glashutte Original brand.
All of us expected the three days to be chocked full and a bit exhausting. They were, especially with full evening dinners, as well. However, the days were also somewhat exhilarating and definitely informative. (It was also nice to have some time to spend with my colleagues from overseas, as well as the group of about 10 of us who flew there and back together from the USA.) Each brand showcased a particular specialty throughout the factory tours, and each gave full hands-on product presentations. At Breguet we took a good look at the brand’s haute horology expertise with a particular emphasis on the tourbillon (after all, Abraham-Louis Breguet did invent the tourbillon).We also got to go inside the brand’s extensive guilloche workshop, where dozens of artisans were working on engine turning guilloche dials. It is easily the most comprehensive workshops of its type.
At Blancpain, the focus was on the vertical integration of the company and how the brand makes all of its own tools for watchmaking, how it is advanced in creating all of its own movement parts, even silicon hairsprings, and more. We even got a tour inside the high-watchmaking atelier. As to the presentation of new products, Mark Hayek conducted it and gave great insight into the inspiration behind each watch.
At the Jaquet Droz workshops, we got a great look at the brand’s meters d’ arts workshops — where the creative dials are made using enameling, engraving and more. We also got a look at some of the most historical songbird watches and clocks from Droz that date ask to the 18th century.
At Omega, where the focus is on production, we were offered a look at the brand’s high-tech approach to production, as well as at its expertise in anti-magnetism and precision. As mentioned, at Harry Winston, we had an in-depth look at the gem-setting techniques and expertise — some of which may surprise you when I get that story written. As mentioned, also, Glashutte Original is based in Germany, but that didn’t stop us from having a wonderful experience inside the Starling hotel where the brand set up individual work stations for us to try our hand at dial stamping, bluing screws and more. Clicking on this link should show you a movie of my stamping experience: IMG_3825
Over the coming weeks, I will be bringing insights into the newest products — most of which won’t hit the market for months to come — and into the behind-the-scenes of each brand.