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Piaget 18k rose gold Limelight gala, luxury watch, collectable, about time, watch fair

In a world driven by relentless technological innovation, there is an enduring fascination with a timeless and tangible masterpiece – the luxury watch. Beyond their utilitarian function of telling time luxury watches are an embodiment of craftmanship, heritage and artistic expression.

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending a watch fair in Sydney. It was a first for Australia and orchestrated by the Australian Financial Review(AFR) newspaper for its readers and subscribers. At the fair, I discovered that luxury watches are not mere accessories but miniture mechanical marvels. At the very heart of every luxury watch lies a labyrinth of gears, springs, jewels and innovation working in unison to measure time with unparalleled accuracy and also allow the wearer to express their unique style.

My first appointment was with Piaget. Piaget’s Swiss precision melded with artistic creativity, produces stunning watches like the Altiplano and Limelight Gala. The store had literally moved from its old location in David Jones to its new store in King St the day before the fair. Everything was in order from the watch displays to the knowledgeable and well-mannered staff. Jessy, my sales ambassador, explained that the Limelight Gala was originally inspired by Salvadore Dali’s wife, Gala in 1973. It was relaunched in 2017 with its distinguishable signature, assymetrical rows of perfect diamonds around the watch face. There were many colours and versions to choose from, but my favourite was the classic 18k Rose Gold Limelight Gala.

roger dubuis. luxury watch, collectable, pirelli tyres, racing cars

The next stop was Roger Dubuis, a relatively newcomer to the luxury watch market. Founded in 1995 by Roger Dubuis and Carlos Dias, the brand is described as contemporary, daring and disruptive. 

In collaboration with car maker motor sport companies Lamborghini and Pirelli in 2017, the Lamborghini Squadra Corse and Pirelli watches were created. The former featuring parts of the Lamborghini car and the latter featuring rubber inlays from Pirelli tyres. The photo on the right is the Lamborghini watch. Looks like a collectable Pokemon fans would love!

Roger Dubuis lamborghini watch, collectables, wealth, racing cars

As part of the fair, the store brought in a racing car simulator. Racing car tyres were also on display, along with a racing helmet. Whilst I was not very good at turning corners(ended up on the lawn a few times), everyone is a winner being rewarded with a Pirelli cap.

Chopard Alpine Eagle, luxury watch, collectables, wealth

After all the exitement, the next stop at Chopard was a bit more relax and celebratory. We were treated to the first reveal of the Australian version of its Alpine Eagle. Designed by well respected Indigenous artist Shaun Daniel Allen (‘Shal’), the watch was as beautiful as the painting. Using colours representing the Australian outback and curves of rivers from above. The box for the watch is hand painted by the artist and the painting is depicted on the back of the watch.

As the official launch is not until November, we were not allowed to take photos and there was no price set for the time piece yet. There will only be 20 pieces made, so it will indeed be for collectors only. Kudos to Chopard Oceania General Manager, Ruggero Pirotto for getting the project through Chopard headquarters approved in record time.

My 1pm appointment was with one of my favourite brands, Louis Vuitton. Well known for their iconic handbags, luggage bags, fashion and apparel, their watches were equally stylish and impressive. Featured was the new 2023 Tambour, a thinner, sleeker version of the well established model. The five Tambour watches on display were non-functioning prototypes with identical look, feel and weight of the actual watch. The bracelet seamlessly integrates with the watch case, gently narrowing as it extends toward the clasp, lending the timepiece its effortlessly elegant look. Buyers of the watch receive a trunk to store the watch – a collectable in itself.

Also on display was the Tambour Mysterieuse, with its floating manually wound LV115 movement in the centre of the dial between sapphire crystals. Mysterieuse because you cannot see how the movement is connected to the rest of the watch.

Louis Vuitton watch, luxury watch, collectable, timepiece, watch fair, brands
Breitling watch, collectable, adventure, aviator, navitimer, chronomat

Breitling was originally a watch designed for aviators, extremely robust, shockproof with luminescent numerals, yet stylish. Being easy to read in low lighting conditions and having a practical slide rule bezel for calculating distance and speeds has made it the top brand for pilots for decades. Its Navitimer range have been one of the world’s most loved mechanical chronographs for over 70 years.  

More recently, Breitling have expanded their market to include surfers, partnering with champion surfer Kelly Slater. Actress Charlize Theron has added an extra dimension of elegance to their Navitimer watches. Partnerships with Motorcycle brands Triumph and Deus have created watches appealing to bikers, boarders and digital nomads – representing freedom and adventure.

Jonathan Mohabuth, Breitling’s manager showed us the new version Chronomat in Ningaloo reef and Australian red centre inspired colours. Also showcased, were petite Navitimers(first photo above), which had a special appeal for those of us with small wrists and adventurous hearts. 

crab and sweetcorn muffin, the charles barjamon iberico croquette, the charles barmanadarin macaron, the charles bar

Afternoon snacks and a cocktail were available for attendees all day at the Charles Bar for the watch fair. On the canape menu were spanner crab and sweet corn muffin, jamon iberico croquette with taragon mustard and manadarin macaron. These were washed down with a peach and vodka cocktail. The Charles also gave us a couple of chocolates in a box to take away and keep us going strong for the rest of the afternoon.

Peach cocktail with vodka, the Charles Bar, afternoon snacks, about time watch fair
Ralph Lauren terrace, Sydney, watch fair, luxury watch

Ralph Lauren RL888 watch, luxury watch, collectables, classic timepiecesJust in case the canapes were not enough, the next stop at Ralph Lauren provided pretzels and Moet champagne. Better known for their casual classic and sporty fashions, we ascended in the elevator to the 4th floor, passing the clothing fashions on the lower floors. There were only a small number of watches featured – the RL888 and Stirrup watch collections. Reflecting Ralph Lauren’s passion for the equestrian lifestyle, they were accompanied by the matching Equestrian fine jewellery collection.

The RL888 collection was inspired by Art Deco and named in honour of the women’s flagship store at 888 Madison Avenue, New York. Powered by a quartz movement, it features a mix of oversized Roman and Arabic numerals. Options include diamonds and a rose gold or black leather strap. Timeless and classic elegance.

The last stop for the day was the most impressive. Grand Seiko flew in master watch maker Ikukiyo Komatsu from Japan to do live demonstrations of his skill in putting together a spring watch. The steadiness of his hands and the skill in knowing the exact pressure to exert for each component cannot be underestimated. As each part was added, we were provided with a live commentary by Grand Seiko staff and at the end, there was opportunity to ask questions via a Japanese translator.

Featured, was Grand Seiko’s patented Spring Drive Movement – This ingenious mechanism harnesses the power of three distinct energy sources. Firstly, it utilizes the mechanical energy generated by the wearer’s wrist movements, efficiently stored in the mainspring to drive the watch’s gears. Through electromagnetic induction, a portion of this mechanical energy gets converted into electrical energy. This electrical energy powers a circuit housing a quartz crystal oscillator, known for its exceptional precision in timekeeping.

This oscillator’s incredibly accurate time signal is then employed to regulate an electronic brake, meticulously controlling the speed of each hand on the watch’s display. This fusion of mechanical and electrical ingenuity marks a significant leap in horological innovation

Grand Seiko master watchmaker Ikukiyo Komatsu, Grand Seiko watch, luxury watches, Japanese excellence

After the demonstration, I was shown a couple of watches by sales ambassador, Kelly. The first was the 62GS Shunbun – The Vernal Equinox (shown in the photo). Gaze upon the dial, and you’ll be transported to Hana-Ikada, that cherished moment after the spring equinox, known as Shunbun, when cherry blossom petals gracefully blanket a river’s surface. The textured, pale pink dial beautifully captures this magical scene, celebrating the ephemeral beauty of Sakura and the profound essence of time. This watch houses the Spring Drive caliber 9R65.

The second watch was STGF374(below right). ‘Soka’ -drawing a poetic comparison between frost’s flower- like beauty and delicate patterns reminiscent of “Shimohana.” Sparkling diamond-cut hands and indexes balance aesthetics and readability. The case features a wide, distortion-free mirror surface for an elegant shine. Crafted from scratch-resistant, skin-friendly bright titanium, it’s a durable and elegant choice.

grand seiko watch, luxury watch, soka, collectable, quartz, elegant timepieceI hope AFR will make this event an annual feature in coming years. I now have a new appreciation for fine timepieces, the intricate mechanics and innovations, the style and stories behind each masterpiece.

I can honestly say today was time well spent. A big Thank You to the organizers and all involved. The only question is which watch should I invest in? A re-visit to some of the stores may sway my decision. Only time will tell.