Updated: Jul 11
I once again had the opportunity of attending this June’s shows in my capacity as the Secretary of the Horological Society of Utah. Having attended last year I was really looking forward to this year as we had built some great relationships with brands, vendors and new and old friends from last year. The 3 events are all within walking distance and according to Aaron’s apple watch I think we did about 20,000 steps the first day. Seriously.
For those that haven’t had the chance to attend the shows you start out by reaching out to the brands and seeing if you can secure an appointment. Sounds easy right? You have press credentials and you were there last year an email was written boom send, yes? Well not exactly. Lets just say some of the folks returned our requests earnestly, some reached out to us before I hit send and some well they didn’t reply at all.
Once secured though over the next 3 days we attended our appointments and met up with the aforementioned friends such as Katlen at Norqain, Mike at Zodiac, Josh and Company at Oris, Joe at Grand Seiko and the very hospitable guys at Seiko. Also as we walked around with schwag bags in tow we mastered the art of dropping in on a few folks such as Bulova which turned out to be a highlight or when we invited ourselves to Bell and Ross or G-Shock. I have to say everybody was really great and welcoming and genuinely glad to see us. Just as glad as we were to see them and hear all about their new wares, some of which we’d already seen online and some under embargo. Let me tell you some of the watches coming out this year will be stunning and some at the end of the year really unexpected. Holding the Grand Seiko Six Figure Constant Force Tourbillon is a highlight. You know once in a while you take a chance. We stopped by and met the owner of Wilbur Watches and his crew and nothing like chatting with an overly enthusiastic designer who sells 5 and 6 digit price watches all the while with his big ole beard to match his big ole personality and his awesome Metallica t-shirt. The watch he designed used the “alien font” on the supposed UFO wreckage from Roswell and as the characters moved about the dial in their mechanical way they translated into Arabic numbers displaying the time. Huge, geometric, expensive but infinitely cool. Would I buy one probably not but I’d love to sit and have a drink with that guy and hear what's going on in his brain.
The evenings had events where some of the brands hosted cocktail parties and dinner. Some with entertainment and some with music. Sounds more glamorous than it is. Vegas is hot and inside is a swirling wind of AC drying the sweat off your back. I had a great conversation with the owner of Norqain and his partner as did Aaron and Greg. These guys are young and vibrant with their new Wild One series in Nortec and their other novelties. We also had the opportunity at the Oris dinner with VJ Geronimo (coolest name ever) the newly minted President of the Americas for Oris and Rolf the boss over the entire company. Rolf likes Country Music and we had a band to match those tastes.
The other component that is weird sometimes is if you are like me and you listen to many watch podcasts you think you know these folks already and if you are weird like me and retain mostly everything you read and hear it's amazing how you can have conversations with these folks from the brands and drop comments with them about items from the past, sales figures, watches new and old. The best though is when you just shoot the shit about people stuff. Family, hobbies, and how somebody’s knee is doing after a skiing accident. Normal everyday folks just like all the rest of us in the Horological Society of Utah. And this familiarity extends further to watch media types like Ariel Adams from A Blog to Watch, Blake from Worn and Wound, people from Revolution, eBay with their new guarantee services and over in the Antique show Mike Mangos from Watch Box.
Speaking of the Antique Clock and Watch show I was in heaven being a lover of all things vintage when it comes to watches. Literally glass booths and stalls in two exhibition halls full of all the finest and not so finest watches from before my birth and my childhood together. We met lots of great vendors last year from Texas, California and the midwest and it was great to meet up with them again. I always wear an interesting piece from my collection so when we are in the malay of the crowd around a booth somebody takes notice and we can wiggle up to the front of the line. These folks are there to conduct business and man do they. They sell to each other, attendees and Greg who I goaded into buying an Oysterquartz. But I know he likes it and I am happy for him. Again for these guys it's a numbers game and they sometimes just like to again shoot the shit to escape from the reality of sales until the next guy with a backpack full of AP’s jumps the line or just some silly guy like me trying to sell a dial out of an old Datejust. Ask me about that one if you read this next time you see me.
We did round out by going to see Jason from AWCI and the big ole motorhome full of watchmaker goodness parked inside the hall of JCK and were excited to know in a week's time he would be in St. George and Salt Lake City for Build a Watch.
Anyway I’m appreciative of a really well run show where the event promoters have their stuff together for credentials, meals and help anytime you need it. It really does make an event great when your feet are tired and it's 100 Degrees outside the building in the world that is Las Vegas. I know I’m a lucky kind of guy. Mostly to be accompanied by two good friends but lucky in that we like everyone at the show be it presenter, salesman or press all convened at Couture, JCK and the Antique Watch and Clock show because of our love of watches. Man what a wonderful world.