Watches in the DesertBy Keith W. Strandberg
Revolution USA kicked off the Las Vegas shows with the third annual Revolution Motorcycles and Musclecars Ride on May 30th. We partnered with Baume & Mercier and Indian for the first time and it was a tremendous success – in fact, we had more participants than ever before: 28 people, with 12 motorcycles and eight cars.
Most people who go to Las Vegas for the watch shows never leave the Strip, and that’s a shame. The natural beauty to be found all around the city is incredible and worth exploring.
We rode out to Red Rock Canyon, then up to Mount Charleston for lunch. The day started out at around 100 degrees, but Mount Charleston was a cool 70 degrees when we arrived for lunch. On the way to Mount Charleston, we lost one driver, Thilo Mühle from Mühle-Glashütte, when his vintage Mustang overheated and he headed back to Vegas. On the way down from Mount Charleston, Patrik Hoffmann from Chronoswiss ran out of gas, but in our tradition of “leaving no man behind,” Phil Ogle from Urwerk, accompanied by Heike Furley, went to get a gas can and saved Patrik’s bacon, while Ahmad Shahriar from Breguet and I kept him company.
By the time we got back to Las Vegas, the temperature had soared to 106 degrees and the coolness of Mount Charleston was a distant memory. We returned the Indians to Sin City Indian and then repaired to our various hotels to get ready for the show to begin the next day.
The Revolution ride always happens the day before the Couture Show opens, and this year the JCK show was way down on watch brand participation, while many watch brands have embraced Couture as the place to be.
The Vegas shows are still important show, as some retailers don’t go to SIHH or Baselworld, so it’s important for brands to have a presence in Las Vegas.
The overall mood at the show was very good — optimism is high for the US market, and the smaller watch brands exhibiting at Couture Time claimed to have had a number of substantive meetings with important watch retailers.
The US is still a huge watch market and the more Revolution can do to spread the good watch word and expand the pool of US customers, the better the market will do.
US Special Editions
The Las Vegas shows are not usually ones where new product is introduced, as SIHH and Baselworld were earlier in the year. The shows instead become a chance to catch up with our friends in the industry without the pressure of seeing every single watch introduced.
That being said, several companies unveiled new US-only special editions.
Grand Seiko introduced a Spring Drive Limited Edition for the USA, 300 pieces in stainless steel, 50 pieces in rose gold and 30 pieces in platinum, with snowflake dials. The dial is inspired by the iconic kabuki dress.
Pictured here is Brice Le Troadec, USA brand president of Grand Seiko, modeling the US-only special edition Grand Seiko Spring Drive, a project he spearheaded.
Zenith introduced a new Defy Lab US-only edition, with its limitation still to be decided.
To add color to its Vanguard collection, Franck Muller introduced three new great US-only editions. The Vanguard, as befits its name, has become the sales leader for Franck Muller and the focal point of the brand as it continues to succeed in the USA.
Capitalizing on its success in sports watches, Longines introduced a new collection of three US exclusive HydroConquest timepieces (300 pieces in stainless steel, 550 in black PVD and 150 gray PVD). At 41mm, these new HydroConquest watches are true diving watches, water-resistant to 300 meters and featuring red indices. The initials USA in in the bottom right corner of the dial and a luminous numeral 50 in the upper left corner of the bezel identify these as US exclusive models. An engraved American flag motif on the caseback completes the design.
We also got another look at the ultra-cool Legend Diver in black PVD, which we were able to contrast on the spot with the original Legend Diver from the 1960s
While not a US-only special edition, Bell & Ross introduced its new BR 01 Laughing Skull during Couture, a very cool skull watch where the lower jaw moves when you wind the watch.
I gotta say, lots of people don’t like going to Vegas for the shows, but I enjoy the whole thing – the Revolution ride, the over-the-top nature of Las Vegas itself, the chance to sit down and chat with friends from the industry and more.
I love starting the Las Vegas shows with our ride into the desert, weaving between the majestic rock formations and getting away from the neon lights of the Strip. The ride and the camaraderie always set the stage and the mood for a successful show.
I already can’t wait until next year.
Yoshifusa Nakazawa, Micro Artist Studio Watchmaker, Seiko/Credor
I had the chance to sit down with Yoshifusa Nakazawa from Credor, who I met on my second trip to Japan to tour the Seiko Group facilities. Mr. Nakazawa sits in a small office under a slanted ceiling, slaving away on some incredible pieces until they are perfect. He was in Las Vegas to demonstrate the assembly of the H2 and the Credor Sonnerie.
“I have been working for Seiko since I was 18, doing lots of different things, but I always come back to watches. I like the challenges of watchmaking, there is always something different. The assembly and adjustment of the Sonnerie is a real challenge and always keeps me on my toes.
“I can do two or three Sonnerie pieces a year. I also assemble the H2. If I dedicated all my time to the H2, I could do 100 pieces a year.
I like my small room. It’s like an atelier in Switzerland and it allows me to concentrate on my work. I work from 8:30 am – 5:30 pm, and I always play golf before I go to work. Playing golf is like assembling complicated watches. You are never satisfied.”