Saturday, February 13, 2010

Watch manufacturers in unusual countries - The Netherlands

I have lately been interested in watches made in the "Western countries" outside of Switzerland and Germany.

And once you start researching what is out there, it becomes very surprising how many actually exist, from high-end movement manufacturers, through expensive "emboiteurs", to basic low-end quartz watch producers.

Four of the these western countries with the most watch manufacturers are the Netherlands, France, Italy, and the US.

The Netherlands itself alone has 7 producers that I know of:

- Christiaan van der Klaauw: this is a very interesting manufacturer in Heerenveen (Friesland), which bases his design on the heritage of Friesian Astronomer Eise Eisinga, who built a Planetarium near there in the city of Franeker. He uses ETA movements, but seems to have created his own as well, called KB 52824-2

- Van der Gang: based in Dokkum (also Friesland!), produces IWC Portuguese look-a-likes based on ETA 2992-A2 and Valjoux 775x.

- Steiner Limited: based in Maastricht, also produces Portuguese look-a-likes based on Valjoux 775x. Anecdote: I know someone who has one, and it is really impressive quality.

- Van Ree: is in Bussum, produces "the first watch ever to store the DNA of the owner"

- Dingemans: located near Rotterdam, makes 12 watches a year, customised to the future owner's wishes.

- Pelikaan Timing: in Utrecht, make a nice looking "Aviator" type watch based on a Unitas 6498-1 movement.

- Kiber: in Den Haag, seems to have a big collection of low cost watches, mostly on Japanese movements

I am in Friesland often for family reasons, and I certainly hope to go check out Christiaan van der Klaauw and one day buy one.

Monday, January 18, 2010

SIHH - what is it?

The SIHH in Geneva has kicked off today.. just for those who don't know, the SIHH stands for the "Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie" and it is the commercial fair set-up by those watch manufacturers that are part of the Richemont group, one of the world's leading luxury goods group. These watch manufacturers are for example Vacheron Constantin, A.Lange & Sohne, Roger Dubuis, Piaget, IWC, Panerai, Cartier, and Montblanc. In addition, there also a few "friendly" brands such as Gruebel-Forsey (Richemont is minority sharelholder), Ralph Lauren (who use Richemont group movements) and Girard-Perregaux and JeanRichard (both belong to the Sowind group, of which another luxury good giant, PPR, owns a minority stake) at the SIHH.

Because this fair was so specific but nevertheless important, other manufacturers have set up parallel fairs in Geneva to "catch" the same buyers visiting SIHH, plus some brands have set up individual presence in hotels in Geneva at the same time. The "parallel" fairs are GTE (Geneva Time Exhibition), WPHH (World Presentation of Haute Horlogerie) and Horlogers Artisans d'Art.

In my opinion, GTE is the most interesting "parallel" fair with presence of high-end watches from Ateliers de Monaco, Alain Silberstein, Antoine Preziuso, Aquanautic, Artya, Aspen, BRM (Bernard Richard Manufacture, France), Cabestan, HD3, Ladoire Genève, Linde Werdelin, Louis Chevrolet, Magellan, MCT – Manufacture Contemporaine du Temps, Peter Rebellion Timepieces, Snyper, Steenman Watches, Cargo Titanium, Volna, and Valbray..