April 17, 2015
The Madison Avenue Business Improvement District is inviting horologists to the largest fine timepiece marketplace in North America for the fifth annual Madison Avenue Watch Week April 20-25.
Watchmakers such as Hublot, Vacheron Constantin and Jaeger-LeCoultre will open the doors to their Madison Avenue boutiques to give watch enthusiasts and passersby a detailed look at collections and the craft involved. Hosting an horology-themed event along New York’s Madison Avenue will generate interest in the pieces on display and is likely to help establish relationships between the watchmakers and affluents living nearby.
"In the last five years, Madison Avenue has become the epicenter for haute horlogerie and the largest fine timepiece marketplace in North America," said Matthew Bauer, president of the Madison Avenue Business Improvement District, New York. "This congregation of watch brands establishing flagships motivated the Madison Avenue Business Improvement District to create the first Madison Avenue Watch Week.
"The concept was simple: to preview and showcase for the New York audience the newest timepieces introduced at their brands’ Swiss debuts and to develop engaging in-store programming," he said. "Madison Avenue Watch Week will be celebrating its 5th Anniversary from April 20-25.
"From the event’s formation, The Wall Street Journal has played an integral role in making the event come to life and engage new and existing clients with the brands participating in Madison Avenue Watch Week. This includes promoting the event to its readers via the pages of The Journal, including a special section appearing the weekend of April 18 and WSJ. magazine; to developing the event graphics; to organizing a launch event."
The Madison Avenue Business Improvement District produces Madison Avenue Watch Week. The Wall Street Journal is a sponsor.
Walk and watch
Each year since 2010, the watchmakers and jewelers that line Madison Avenue open their doors to visitors. During Madison Avenue Watch Week, consumers and collectors alike can become immersed in the artistry and craftsmanship involved in the creation of fine timepieces, many on view for the first time in the United States.
The 13 participating brands include A. Lange & Söhne, Chopard, David Yurman, De Grisogono, F.P. Journe, Fabergé, Georg Jensen, Hublot, Jaeger-LeCoultre, John Varvatos, Montblanc, Panerai and Vacheron Constantin. The boutiques of this year’s participants are found along Madison Avenue from 57th Street up to 69th Street.
Map of participating watchmakers for Madison Avenue Watch Week 2015
To increase interactions with Madison Avenue Watch Week attendees, the watchmakers host small in-store events to show their collections to guests and establish, or reinforce existing relationships with target consumers.
For example, on Monday, April 20, A. Lange & Söhne is inviting consumers to a passed lunch and watch specialist panel in its boutique. For the rest of the week, during business hours, consumers are invited for beer and pretzels while viewing the brand’s 2015 novelties.
Many of the watchmakers such as David Yurman, F.P. Journe, Fabergé, Georg Jensen, John Varvatos and Montblanc are using Madison Avenue Watch Week to share pieces debuted at Baselworld 2015 and Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie.
Richemont-owned Panerai, for example, will use the opportunity to display its iconic pieces as well as those presented at the 2015 SIHH trade show while Swiss jeweler De Grisogono will host a preview of its The Instrumento Uno Annual Calendar timepiece, launching later this year.
Other watchmakers participating will host interactive events that keep the consumer engaged and interested in the brand and its wares.
Promotional banner for Madison Avenue Watch Week
For instance, Switzerland’s Hublot will have a master watchmaker at its boutique throughout the week to offer insights into the brand’s Unico movement. With an appointment, guests are encouraged to try their hand at deconstructing the Unico movement to better understand the work and skill involved in building a Hublot timepiece.
Similarly, Vacheron Constantin will host a Children’s Watchmaking Workshop on April 25. The hands-on workshop, led by an instructor from the North American Institute of Swiss Watchmaking, will explore the world of horology to teach how watches operate, as well as run a craft project that lets the children build their own take-home clock.
Switzerland’s Jaeger-LeCoultre is taking a dual approach by showing off its timepieces as well as its involvement with global causes. On April 22, Earth Day’s 45th anniversary, Jaeger-LeCoultre and its partner UNESCO are inviting consumers to the brand's Madison Avenue boutique to meet Martin World Heritage program coordinator Fanny Douvere as well as enjoy a photography exhibit by Mark Kelley, taken in Glacier Bay National Park, a world heritage site.
Jaeger-LeCoultre's invitation for Earth Day event
Many of the events during Madison Avenue Watch Week are by appointment only, but the majority are public so that all interested consumers are able to enjoy and experience the watchmakers firsthand.
"To organize and develop the event, we created a steering committee consisting of representatives of each of the watch brands that met together on a regular basis to brainstorm ideas and to develop joint activities," Mr. Bauer said. "They well recognized that by working together, they would focus the luxury watch buying community onto Madison Avenue, thus enhancing the investment that they had each made in creating a flagship boutique here.
"This sense of professional camaraderie paid off, with Madison Avenue consistently being described as one of the world’s leading fine timepiece centers," he said. "Indeed, within the last 12 months, A. Lange & Söhne, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Panerai all opened on Madison Avenue, and each are taking part in the Madison Avenue Watch Week event.
"Clients can create their itineraries and request information and invitations via the event’s dedicated Web site, www.MadisonAvenueWatchWeek.com."
Watchmakers often align large scale events to highlight their pieces and craftsmanship as well as cultural and humanitarian works.
For instance, Richemont-owned Vacheron Constantin is supporting Swiss craftsmanship and creativity by presenting an exhibition highlighting students’ work in the Swiss Pavilion of the Milan World Expo 2015.
The exhibition is the result of a joint project between Vacheron, ECAL—a prestigious Swiss university of art and design based in Lausanne, Switzerland—and the Fondazione Cologni dei Mestieri d’Arte, an institution that promotes the sustainability of crafts. This collaboration allows Vacheron to highlight its commitment to education as well as its heritage as a premier Swiss brand (see story).
Industry events such as Madison Avenue Watch Week and Hong Kong’s Watches & Wonders fair signify the global interest in timepieces.
Overall, the World Watch Report 2015, released just as the annual Baselworld watch and jewelry fair begins on March 19, shows that interest in timepieces has grown by 10 percent between 2013 and 2014. Affluent Asians accounted for 68 percent of global growth of interest, with China, despite its economic slowdown, leading growth (see story).
"The success of Madison Avenue Watch Week is all about the programming, and this year we have a slate of innovating public and private events taking place at our participating boutiques," Mr. Bauer said.
Jen King, lead reporter on Luxury Daily, New York