For the seventh year running, SalonQP plays host to 80+ watchmaking brands, consolidating its reputation as Europe’s premier watch event. Unlike other watch salons where a “look but don’t touch” philosophy is the norm, SalonQP offers visitors a chance to see, touch and talk about all the men’s and ladies’ watches on display, in an informal setting and very often with the watchmakers themselves. Parallel activities have also been organised including a dazzling exhibition on the ground floor of the Saatchi Gallery called Gems of Time: The Art of Colour. High jewellery watches are the protagonists, with a special focus on coloured gemstones and the unique sparks that ignite during an affair between watchmaker and jeweller.
A panel of experts will also be on hand to share their knowledge and passion for gemstones, including Daniel Struyf, newly appointed international director of jewellery at Bonhams. Stones might be cold but, according to Struyf, there is a very important emotional aspect you cannot overlook when deciding on a gemstone: “There has to be chemistry,” he insists. “You might have a large stone, but if there is no emotion or connection when you hold it in your hand, well then it’s not going to work for you.”
Reputed jewellery Maisons and watch brands including Jaeger-LeCoultre, Bulgari, Piaget, Gemfields, Backes & Strauss and Harry Winston show how the adroit use of gemstones and painstaking artisanal techniques increase the emotional appeal and desirability of a watch.
From the stunning range of Backes & Strauss watches, the Piccadilly Princess Royal Emerald Green will be on display - a feast of 245 brilliant green Zambian emeralds mined by Gemfields - as well as the Piccadilly Princess Royal Colours, set with 22 gorgeous sorbet-coloured diamonds.
If you haven’t seen the Rendez-Vous Celestial range of Jaeger-LeCoultre watches, with their fiery red aventurine stone dial, annual calendar movement and diamond-set bezel, this is your chance, along with the extraordinary La Rose high jewellery watch. Mimicking the beauty of freshly fallen snow, 1,420 snow-set diamonds punctuated by rubies bring the petals of this watch to shimmering life.
No exhibition on colour would be complete without Piaget. The Swiss brand will be exhibiting three vintage cuff watches that perfectly capture the Zeitgeist of the swinging 60s and early 70s. This series of ladies' watches feature groovy rock dials made from the finest slivers of jade, lapis lazuli and malachite, all equipped with the mythical ultra-thin 9P Piaget manual-winding movement. If you’ve fallen under their spell, take heart, because there are two re-editions of vintage Piaget watches and a brand new watch with a fishnet cuff in the current collection.
Curated by Caragh McKay, watch editor of The Daily Telegraph, the exhibition is designed by Leila Latchin of Wallpaper magazine and will feature work by illustrator Nuno Da Costa. To delve deeper into the magical realm of high jewellery watches, two seminars will be hosted in the lecture theatre on Friday 13 November. Sasha Slater, deputy editor of Harper’s Bazaar, and Caragh McKay will discuss the relevance of the high jewellery watch at 12:30, followed by a fascinating talk at 3pm by Daniel Struyf, international jewellery director at Bonhams, on the current reign and extraordinary boom in demand for coloured gemstone jewellery illustrated with the finest examples on the market. Struyf will be bringing along some real stones to share with the audience, including two large Kashmir sapphires and a small 3.83ct Burmese ruby, which is particularly special to him.
Gems of Time: The Art of Colour
12-14 November 2015
Duke of York’s HQ
London SW3 4RY