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London vintage watch dealer Somlo Antiques heads east on Sunday to exhibit at the Fine Art Asia fair in Hong Kong, the first event in the region’s annual fine art “season”. One of the star pieces on the Somlo stand will be a rare gold and enamel quarter-repeating pocket watch made by Piguet and Meylan in 1820 (above). The dial depicts a swan being chased by a dog, whose head moves up and down as it runs. The repeating mechanism is particularly clever: instead of sounding the time on a gong in the usual manner, it activates a set of bellows which mimic the sound of barking. It is thought that only 21 such watches survive.
IWC has opened its largest boutique in Macau inside the new floral-themed Wynn Palace resort. The 110 sq m space is divided into areas dedicated to the brand’s different watch families, which range from classic models such as the Portofino and Da Vinci to the signature Pilot and Portugieser lines. At the end of the “journey”, visitors arrive in a club-like lounge, complete with roaring fire. IWC already has two Macau boutiques and plans to open another at the Wynn resort by the end of the year. However, at its recent annual general meeting, IWC’s owner Richemont cited the continued weak performance of its brands in Macau as contributing to a 13 per cent drop in the group’s worldwide sales in the five months to the end of August.
Pierre Jaquet-Droz was an 18th-century maker of automaton clocks whose wares beguiled the Chinese emperor to such an extent that he was the first Swiss horologist to have his creations admitted to the imperial court. Owned by the Swatch Group since 2000, the modern-day Jaquet Droz brand still plays on the Far East connection, typically with new models such as the “Relief Monkey” (2016 is the year of the monkey in the Chinese zodiac calendar). The dial depicts Sun Wukong, the “Monkey King” who was put in charge of the garden of celestial peaches — and proceeded to eat the lot to gain immortality. Only 28 watches will be made, priced £27,800-£58,300.
TAG Heuer has signed a deal with the Asian Football Confederation to become official timekeeper and official watch for all its national competitions, including the AFC Asian Cup in 2019 and the final Asian qualification round for the 2018 Fifa World Cup. The deal also encompasses the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2018 and the 2020 under-23 championship. “Football is the most popular sport in the world,” said TAG’s chief executive, Jean-Claude Biver, after the agreement was announced. “With football, we communicate passion, emotion, joy dreams, team spirit, strategy and, finally, victory!” The AFC deal is only the latest move in TAG’s rush of enthusiasm for football: the brand has formed partnerships with the English Premier League, Germany’s Bundesliga, America’s Major Soccer League, the Chinese Super League and the Australian national football team. TAG has also adopted Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri as an ambassador.
Audemars Piguet is staging a combined exhibition of fine watchmaking and contemporary art at Shanghai’s Yuz Museum next month. It will feature 200 watches, 135 of which are from the brand’s official collection, making it the largest such display ever seen abroad. Conceived by French designer Mathieu Lehanneur and curated by AP’s museum director, Sebastian Vivas, the show is based around a giant copper ring with 12 doors leading to rooms that tell AP’s story through a combination of watches and works by contemporary artists such as Cheng Ran, Dan Holdsworth and Alexandre Joly. The event runs from October 28 to November 13 at the Yuz Museum, which was founded by Chinese-Indonesian collector Budi Tek in a converted aircraft hangar.
Chinese pianist Lang Lang can now be seen sporting a bulky Hublot wrist watch as he plays at sellout concerts. The 34-year-old classical music star and philanthropist became an official ambassador for Hublot earlier this year. The brand said it had adopted Lang Lang because of the similarity between his modern interpretation of classical music and Hublot’s mixed-material “fusion watchmaking”. It is not, however, Lang Lang’s first partnership with a watch house — he was previously involved with Montblanc.
Following the 35th Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair, which ran September 6-10, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council commissioned an independent on-site survey of 834 buyers and exhibitors to predict what the watch world might look like in 2017. Results show that 58 per cent of respondents expect overall sales will remain the same in 2017, while 28 per cent foresee an increase and 14 per cent a decrease. (Swiss watch exports to Hong Kong were down 28 per cent from January to August 2016 compared with the year before, according to the industry figures.) For upcoming products, respondents expect the most popular category will be the smartwatch (31 per cent), followed by digital analogue (26 per cent) and automatic watches (15 per cent). Nearly half of respondents (44 per cent) think fashion watches have the most growth potential, followed by casual watches and smartwatches. Among the world’s largest timepiece events, the fair this year hosted more than 800 exhibitors from 27 countries. Over 20,000 buyers attended, up 2.4 per cent on last year.