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Sophomore Edition of Watches & Wonders Miami Draws 28,000

Attendance was up 40% at the free event.

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Independents tent

IF I SAID YOU could spend a weekend in February surrounded by blue skies, palm trees, dozens of luxury cars, the finest champagne, extremely large yachts, huge jewels, extraordinary works of art, and the latest releases by some of the world’s most respected Swiss watch brands (whew!), would you do it?

Well, you can, and next year, you should. The sophomore edition of Watches & Wonders Miami this past weekend had all of those magnificent things, J-Lo and A-Rod sightings, and oh, so much more.

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Visited by nearly 28,000 people over three days, according to the event organizers, Watches & Wonders Miami – a joint effort between the Fondation Haute Horlogerie (FHH) and the Miami Design District Associates – is already being hailed as a success with a 40 percent increase in attendance from its first edition in 2018. What makes this event different from watch-oriented fairs such as Baselworld, however, is that the event is open to the public for its duration and doesn’t charge an entry fee. Oh, and the fact that the event is held outside in 80-degree weather rather than in the middle of a Switzerland winter doesn’t hurt, either.

Another plus to Watches & Wonders Miami is that guests are invited to visit many of the brands and see their latest novelties in their pre-existing boutiques located in the Miami Design District in lieu of booths at a traditional trade fair. This makes for an intimate environment for those in attendance, and in some cases, buyers are treated to additional perks like visiting Cartier’s rooftop VIP lounge (I may or may not have had a glass of wine or two up there. I’ll never tell.) Attendees also have a variety of opportunities to learn more about the watchmaking world through the classes, seminars, lectures and panels set up at varying times throughout each day. For example, if independent watchmaking is your thing and brands like H. Moser & Cie or F.P. Journe are what you covet, then you likely would have wanted to hang around the independents tent where many pop-up shops were located and where several panels on collecting independent watches were held.

As a first-time attendee of the three-day event, what I probably liked most about it was that there wasn’t this separation of Richemont brands versus LVMH brands versus Swatch Group brands versus independent brands. I was running from Zenith to Romain Gauthier, then from Omega to Girard-Perregaux for appointments, which is something I could never do at one of the other watch fairs.

Watches & Wonders Miami offers an opportunity for those who may not be able to attend the SIHH in Geneva or fork out the thousands of bucks it often costs to get to Baselworld.

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Those who are members of the press, or who are collectors, or who are just your everyday watch enthusiasts can come and see the latest releases, and in some cases, releases specific to W&WM. And as a bonus, there is jewelry, too, including pieces by master craftsman Sevan Biçakçi, who was at the event to showcase his line of incredible one-of-a-kind watches nine (nine!) years in the making.

For now, Watches & Wonders Miami is one of the few watch events held in the U.S. that brings together brands as established and recognized as those exhibiting there. And with some of the international watch shows falling apart at the seams, it looks like it could be around for a long time to come.

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Barbara Palumbo is a watch and jewelry industry writer, journalist and speaker. She manages the blogging websites Adornmentality.com and Whatsonherwrist.com.

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