Throughout the galleries of London's Saatchi Gallery, "better than ever" was a common refrain over the course of the much-anticipated, three-day event known globally as SalonQP. With more than 50 brands, there was certainly something for everyone, as demonstrated by the newsfeeds on Twitter and Facebook, which were abuzz with images of big brand offerings from Girard-Perregaux, Piaget, Zenith and Bulgari, a host of cutting-edge independents like MB&F and Stepan Sarpaneva, as well as hometown favourites.
The ground floor of the Saatchi was awash with major brands exhibiting not only high-quality timepieces, but also demonstrating unique crafts to the well-informed visitors. Jaeger-LeCoultre ran a large-scale watchmaking Masterclass, while Hermès brought Delia lonescu from its Swiss leather workshop to demonstrate the art of crafting the brand's unique straps.
A special treat for the international audience was Jaeger-LeCoultre's unveiling of the Amvox 7, which took place on opening night in the presence of Aston Martin CEO Dr. Ulrich Bez and the Swiss watchmaker's Global Technical Marketing Director Stéphane Belmont.
This year's SalonQP marked more independent watchmakers exhibiting than ever before. Andreas Strehler displayed his unique Butterfly, while Badollet showed off the Ivresse, which was the talk of Baselworld 2012. Finnish watchmaker Kari Voutilainen's masterpieces were also in great company alongside the superb finishing of Laurent Ferrier's traditionally-styled movements, while Ressence's minimalistic brand of watchmaking continued to enchant the British public as much as other markets.
Two brands debuted at the show: Meridian and Thomas Mercer, the latter with a clock based on the original Mercer marine chronometer that is a stunning, modern objet d'art.
The accompanying programme of lectures and talks was punctuated by discussions exploring the elegant, and at times intricate, world of women's watches given by Maria Doulton of The Jewellery Editor. Additionally, SalonQP played host to the only UK showing of the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie's Mastery of Time exhibition, which contains significant artifacts and timepieces tracing the ingenuity of humankind in marking time.
And the icing on the cake? Two days after Sotheby's auction of Dr. George Daniels' watch collection, SalonQP hosted a preview screening of The Watchmaker's Apprentice, a film about the late independent watchmaker and his only apprentice, Roger Smith. The hour-long documentary by a filmmaker located on the Isle of Man was not the final cut, but was a special edition for a truly special event.
I would have to agree with the chatter of the galleries - yes, I would definitely say that SalonQP 2012 was better than ever.
This is an edited version of the full review by Elizabeth Doerr - read it in issue 58 of QP!