Geneva watch fair also offers small brands a good showcase

The Geneva watch fair "Watches&Wonders" is increasingly becoming a showcase for smaller, lesser-known brands. They draw attention to themselves at their stands, make contacts with retailers and generate a large proportion of their annual sales here. Above all, the brands want to raise their profile.

Impressions of the "Watches&Wonders" watch fair at the Palexpo Geneva exhibition complex. (Image: WWGF/KEYSTONE/Valentin Flauraud)

For years, the Geneva watch show was in the hands of the Richemont Group with world-famous brands such as Cartier, Piaget, IWC and Jaeger LeCoultre. Following the demise of its Basel counterpart "Baselworld", "Watches&Wonders" was launched in 2022, with big names such as Patek Philippe, Hublot, Tag Heuer and Chopard taking part alongside industry leader Rolex.

However, smaller brands are also using the newly created platform to present their latest products. For example, Charriol, which is also strongly represented in the jewelry segment, the Lucerne watch manufacturer Chronoswiss and the Geneva-based luxury watch brand Artya. Watches&Wonders" opened last Tuesday and will continue until Monday.

Place for contacts

"The trade fair is a good opportunity for us to present our new products. We meet other representatives of the industry, sell watches and make important contacts that will lead to further sales," explained Coralie Charriol, Managing Director of Charriol, in an interview with the news agency AWP.

Charriol took over the management of the family business after the death of her father in 2019 and initiated a comprehensive restructuring of the company. This was necessary for the company's development and has led to success.

The expansion of the sales network was also important. In India alone, 14 new sales outlets were added last year, and the brand is also represented again in Thailand and Poland. "This year and next, we will focus on the USA, where we are already achieving good sales," says Charriol. The aim is to open our own stores in addition to the long-standing sales partnerships.

Half of annual sales in Geneva

Chronoswiss also counts the USA among its most important sales markets and has a lot to gain from its appearance in Geneva. "A watch brand has to rely on various strategies to make a name for itself," Chronoswiss CEO Oliver Ebstein is convinced in an interview with AWP.

Direct customer contact is an important factor at the trade fair, as almost half of the annual turnover is generated at the fair, Ebstein continues. "We can make new contacts here, because this is where all the industry players and the press are gathered."

To give visitors to the trade fair an understanding of the profession, Chronoswiss will be demonstrating the work and steps involved in watchmaking at its stand. "We only produce around 100 pieces per year and focus on the uniqueness of the product and the family history it conveys," explains a watchmaker. A watch costs between 9,000 and 15,000 francs.

Luxury for customers in Dubai

Another brand that is hardly known to the general public is Artya, which is taking part in "Watches&Wonders" for the first time. "This gives us the opportunity to present our watches and meet customers," says Marketing Manager Guillaume Fonti. "With sales in the first 48 hours of the fair, we have already exceeded our weekly target."

Founded in 2009 by Yvan Arpa, the luxury brand's customers are primarily collectors and watch enthusiasts, many of whom live in Dubai, Doha and Abu Dhabi. Artya watches are not cheap: they cost up to 500,000 Swiss francs each and are sold at 70 points of sale worldwide. (AWP/Leila Fernández)

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