Voluptuary n. A person devoted to luxury and sensual pleasures.
This weekend The Saatchi Gallery in London’s Chelsea hosts the UK’s biggest annual gathering of watch manufacturers, enthusiasts, journalists, sellers, buyers and nerds, and it’s quite an event.
In 2014 Salon QP saw over 7,000 visitors over three days, attracted to the fair for a variety of reasons. This year that figure will grow along with the type and number of attractions — Many people will go to see the new educational exhibitions and workshops designed to improve their knowledge of horology, while others will be there to see new models from well known brands and even the launch of whole new brands.
There will of course be a large number of watch nerds, many of whom we count among our friends, who will be there to discover who has the best tourbillon or the most incredible developments in main spring technology… that’s not why we’re there though.
We visited Salon QP for the preview evening on Thursday as guests of our friends at Bremont Chronometers (thank you Giles & Sophie) and in keeping with the way in which we usually conduct ourselves, we very much enjoyed it from the perspective of the Voluptuary. There will be a thousand pieces published in a thousand places from many other perspectives but we were there for the beauty and the experience, because that’s the way in which we enjoy our watches.
Here are a few of the high points for us along with some tips on how to gain maximum enjoyment from the preview evening:
The Invitation — The anticipation began to build early for us as the invitations arrived in the post, beautifully embossed on preposterously heavy card they set the scene for a very special experience. You know this is going to be good and it’s weeks away yet.
The Location — The Saatchi Gallery is a beautiful location during the day but at night it’s really spectacular. So when you arrive at QP it feels like you’re on the set of a James Bond movie at a grand ball…. it’s pretty special and gives you a great feeling before you even walk in the door.
The Company — This is not an event to attend alone. I went with my big brother and some great watch buddies old and new and met some interesting people along the way, all of which adds to the experience (you might recognise one of the guys in the photo’s) Remember, this is absolutely not just about parachrome mainsprings, it’s about enjoying yourself.
The Welcome — This is where things start to get good. Big security guards let you know that there are some pretty spectacular watches inside, pretty girls bring you free champagne, beer and tasty canapés and very soon you begin to feel like a pretty special guest.
The Crowd — Last year 7000 visitors came to Chelsea for QP and this Thursday it felt like they were all there at the same time for preview evening because the buzz began before we even walked into the first of the thirteen busy rooms. If you go to an event like this and there’s no-one there, it’s not going to make you feel good. On the other hand, when you turn up and everyone’s already having a great time then you can’t help but have one too.
The Watches — You knew they were going to be here and oh my they are here in spades. There are some seriously big brands here like Audemars Piguet, Vacheron Constantin, Bremont, Tudor, Zenith, JLC….It’s a big list and some of the watches are mind blowing.
There are also some newer brands here that you won’t see in many other places like Akrivia and Pequignet and that experience is definitely worth a little investment of your time.
The Auction Houses — The Salon always attracts the presence of the best watch auction houses and this year we were lucky to see Watches of Knightsbridge, Bonhams and Fellows all of whom were pleased to show us some of the lots from their impending auctions. This is where vintage fans get their fix at Salon QP and where you’re almost guaranteed to see examples of the most iconic watch models in the world. I was lucky enough to see a Paul Newman Daytona, a Comex Submariner, the rarest of Tudor Princes and an astonishing late 1950’s bakelite bezelled GMT Master, some of which you can see above.
These three stands are the places where we genuinely can see individual watches the like of which most of us will never see again.
So as you know we don’t sell niche watch brands, we don’t sell new watches and we don’t care about the latest advances in movements or timekeeping to a millionth of a second. So why on earth would we spend time and money visiting a show which is ostensibly about just that?
Because it’s an EXPERIENCE — and a great one at that.
You should go.