On the one hand, the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie which celebrates 25 years. On the other, a canton that has helped define the history of time measurement in Switzerland. The two combined ensure that the SIHH continues to play its foremost role in the Swiss replica watches UK for sale segment, not only thanks to the firms that exhibit there, but also because the region offers a unique cluster of competencies in watchmaking.
Work began last year on the Richemont Campus in Meyrin, next door to Geneva. The group, which is investing CHF 100 million in this new infrastructure, plans to employ around a thousand people there by 2020, half of whom will fill newly created positions. The Campus will have as a neighbour the production site for replica Louis Vuitton watches: LVMH cut the ribbon on its new facility last autumn after investing CHF 20 million to renovate buildings that are now home to some one hundred staff, including from La Fabrique du Temps which Louis Vuitton acquired in 2011. Coming on the heels of these two projects, Patek Philippe recently announced that it will be extending its Manufacture at a cost of CHF 450 million. Work is scheduled for completion in 2018.
A group named Richemont
Ventures on this scale, regardless of slower growth in Swiss replica watches for men exports these past two years, are giving the industry a new foothold on Genevese soil. They also carry on a wave of expansion that began in the canton two decades earlier, thanks to which Geneva now constitutes an employment pool of some ten thousand people: the third largest for watchmaking after Neuchâtel and Vaud, and with some major employers, including Rolex, Chopard and Harry Winston. Geneva is hardly a sprawling metropolis, hence the particularly dense concentration of watchmakers at this end of the eponymous lake.
The Richemont group certainly has something to do with this. The multinational, whose head office is a short drive from the centre of town, has made itself at home in the region where it has developed production capacity for several of its Maisons. Piaget and Vacheron Constantin have both moved into facilities that opened only recently, and which are already slated to grow. Roger Dubuis, established in 1995 and acquired by the group in 2008, is firmly anchored in Geneva. Not forgetting Cartier, many of whose Haute Horlogerie watches are hallmarked with the Poinçon de Genève, which requires watchmakers to have workshops in Calvin’s city. This will shortly be the case for Van Cleef & Arpels too. Completing the line-up are Baume & Mercier, which is located inside the group’s head office, and Stern, a specialist dial manufacturer that will become part of the future Campus.
A golden era coinciding with the SIHH
This string of developments has confirmed the importance of Geneva as one of the cradles of watchmaking in Switzerland. The Revocation of the Edict of Nantes by Louis XIV in 1685 was decisive in establishing watchmaking in the city. Born with the Reformation, it has continued to grow there ever since. In the eighteenth century, the number of Swiss fake watches online store produced in Geneva each year grew from some 5,000 to 40,000 in gold and 45,000 in silver on the eve of the French Revolution, when the sector employed almost 6,000 people in and around Geneva: almost 40% of the region’s total workforce. It took Genevese watchmaking several decades to recover from the consequences of the French Revolution, particularly the blockade imposed on the country’s exports, yet by the late nineteenth century watchmaking had built itself back to its former heights and new businesses were springing up across the Arc Jurassien. Even the quartz crisis of the 1980s, despite sounding the death knell for many companies in the branch, couldn’t wipe Geneva off the map of horological excellence, and over the past two decades this position has been further reinforced.
This new golden era coincides with the creation and expansion of the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH), a gathering for the watch Maisons in the Richemont group which this year celebrates its 25th anniversary, still in the company of Audemars Piguet, Greubel Forsey, Parmigiani, Ralph Lauren and Richard Mille, bringing the total number of exhibitors to sixteen. A sign of the times, just a few years ago only a handful of brands set up shop in Geneva to take advantage of SIHH week to present their new models. Their number is now closer to fifty. Seen by many as a breakaway venture in its early days, the SIHH has succeeded in establishing its character and its vision of watchmaking. It can also take credit for repositioning Geneva as a centre for prestige best Swiss replica watchmaking. A position which, as history shows, it rightfully deserves.