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The End Of Salon QP As We Know It?

We here at the Watchmaker’s Club are in mourning. Tragedy has struck; the end is nigh, and the bell has tolled for Salon QP. We mean that with no trace of sarcasm either; plenty of our brands got their starts at the London-centric watch show. That just makes things all the sadder though as it doesn’t look like anyone else will be doing the same in the future.

We might sound like a broken record here, given the outpouring of anti-hype that last year’s Saatchi Gallery spectacular was beleaguered by. But given that we were one of the few places praising last year’s focus on independent watchmakers and fantastic talks, you can be sure it pains us to say all this.

So why oh why are we so despairing? That’s because this year’s Salon QP is not going to be QP – at least as we’ve come to love it.

The worry started a good few months ago now when we as a group realised that none of our brands had been approached to participate. Given that QP Magazine was undergoing a change of ownership (we think they’ll be happier at Hearst) that’s not too much of a surprise, if independents weren’t the entire mainstay of last year’s event, the saving grace if you will.

We did, however, hear rumblings that some brands had been approached. It won’t surprise you to know that the ones that had were the big, crowd-pleasing, Bond Street regulars. You know, the kind of brands you can see anywhere – at their own boutique, at Watches of Switzerland, on a bloody billboard….

So far so disappointing. However, it gets worse. What was the only dedicated watch show in the UK (worth going to at any rate) was going more ‘lifestyle’.

Some people of course – our regular writer Mr Kessler Jr. included – don’t mind that too much and it’s easy to see why. He’s only 28, bless him, and it can create a more rounded event with a bit more mass appeal and likely a younger audience. But we independent brands (pardon our French) don’t give a toss about mass appeal.

Many of us are collector’s brands. We make watches for serious horophiles, the kind of people that can list guilloche finishes and have a cultish preference on the shape of their indexes. These are not people that come because of mass appeal.

We don’t care how good the DJ at the party is when the people they’re mixing for don’t know Tissot and Timex from Garrick and Greubel Forsey. The thing is, Salon QP already had the more rounded appeal from its various talks, especially when chaired by the likes of Aleks over at The Jackal. But it stood out because of its focus, not in spite of it.

Which brings us to a statement that we never thought we’d say. Why would you now do QP over Baselworld?

Let that sink in for a second. You normally wouldn’t hear a nice word said about Baselworld by us, but last year really was surprisingly good. Throw in that the gargantuan event is actively encouraging independent brands with far, far lower rates and it becomes a non-starter. A less focused yet still smaller event, or the industry juggernaut?

Now, don’t get us wrong. We don’t want QP to relegate itself to the history books and god knows we’ve been wrong in the past when it comes to these things. We’re certainly not discounting the fact that this time next year we might be loving the fresh, new approach to Salon QP we’re seeing the beginnings of here.

It’s easy to dwell on the apparent negatives without any thought to what Salon QP could be in the future. All signs may be pointing one way and, negative as we sound here, we’re still hopeful. Even in the worst-case scenario, just because it’s not right for us doesn’t mean it won’t be a phenomenal event in and of itself and with James Gurney, James Buttery and Chris Hall working hard behind the scenes they might just pull it off.

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