I would like to say in advance that the following pieces of text are literal to the namesake of the title : a series of ramblings.
As of writing this, the weekend is on the verge of passing and SalonQP has come an end. It’s my third year attending the event, with each tour never being the same. The perspective this year is a lot different from previous years and I thought it would be interesting to note down my thoughts.
I guess the first major difference and a bit of context would be that I’m now an adult and attending the event as a gap year student. This makes waves for a different kind of interaction with people and the sort of time slots I’m now able to commit to. Previous years were hinged on school and exams, meaning that any weekday events were completely off the table. I remember making a comment about the surreal feeling of seeing schoolchildren running around during the opening reception on the Thursday evening. I also managed to get my name on to the press register this year representing my tiny little blog – the Watchrant. I was quite chuffed at the gesture – seeing that I could get access to such a thing, but it also paved way for a new set of responsibilities on myself. This year I had more of an agenda to follow rather than the usual free-for-all I’m used to.
Open reception and a look at the brands:
The Thursday night reception is supposed to be the centrepiece of the event. It’s where all the brands involved sink their teeth into the next few days ahead of them and delve themselves into a triage of tending to journalists and current/potential clients. I was told prior that the dress code of the event was ‘Black Tie’ though I honestly felt that anyone who took themselves seriously wouldn’t turn up wearing a dinner jacket or tuxedo… I was right.
The evening was commenced with a very short press statement – it was at this moment did I also realise that my escapades on Linkedin the prior months before had paid off, as I was able to recognise a few people without having ever met them. It also made me look like someone ‘in the know’ which comes in handy when in reality; you’re someone nobody has heard of. I noticed that the room was rather bare in terms of chairs being filled; this might be the explanation as to why I was granted a press pass…
The short press statement was followed by a relatively long-winded speech from the CEO of ALS, Wilhelm Schmid, and the presentation of their new installation: “Lange Blue Crafts”. The unveiling turned out to be quite an amusing part of the night as I remember bursting into laughter when I saw that most of the people in the room had left after less than 20 seconds of viewing the exhibition. It might also be that I’m an uncultured pleb who may not quite know how to appreciate art properly.
The rest of the night was then to choose between a series of tours and workshops, though I chose to wonder around instead. I didn’t really have a strategy in plan for the evening, though I was keen to catch up with a few familiar faces and check out any new brands.
That’s probably another point of interest about this QP this year: the usual ‘large’ brands that fill up the halls were not present – instead replaced with a lot of new independent watch labels along with brands showcasing in the UK for the first time. I remember walking up to some founders from more reputable labels who admitted having never heard of most of the brands on showcase. In any sense, this was to my advantage as I had some common grounds to share with the hitherto unknown labels. It also meant I could have some unique perspectives in the field of horology and could pitch my ‘Watchfam around the world’ (more on that later) project to the founders of said labels.
The first label I walked over to was Czapek, who’s marketing manager Jane Burton was kind enough to have organised a ticket for me to visit during the night. I did surprise her by saying that I managed to get a press pass instead but thanked her for the support. I then walked over to a few other people I was familiar with such as Rexhep Rexhepi from Akrivia and Kari Voutilainen (who I’ve begun a yearly tradition of taking a photo with) and had a quick catch-up conversation. I then made my way over to the new independents showcasing this year, looking forward to seeing what was on offer.
I gave a brief summary of the brands I interacted with in my previous article which explains the highlights of what I came across. What was more interesting for me was the conversations I had with the brand owners. They all had interesting stories to tell and backed their narrations with an infectious enthusiasm. It was this enthusiasm coming from all directions did I lose my own perception of timekeeping (quite ironic considering I was at a watch exhibition) and let the hours slip by. I hadn’t eaten or drunk a single thing the whole night as I was so engrossed in conversation and oogling at watches. I was handed multiple glasses of Prosecco only to then ditch them as I walked over to the next stall – I didn’t take a single sip.
Thursday and Friday
The next two days were a lot more relaxed than the opening night. I missed the Friday daytime show due to some prior commitments but managed to make it in time for the evening reception. There wasn’t much of a difference from the Thursday night, except that the prosecco had been replaced with wine. I suspect that the cut in ticket price had a lot to do with that.
I did have a few people walk up to me in recognition which surprised me quite a bit. It appeared I was better known through my personal social media accounts rather than the watchrant. The conversations went along the lines of: “I don’t suppose you happen to be that weirdo on Instagram who posts the dodgy stories on the daily?” to which I was reply with a feeble “yes” as a response. I also spent the days handing out business cards in which I ended up running out on a couple of occasions. That sounds like a good thing, though the usual convention of being handed a business card by a random person tends to be throwing it in the middle of paperwork or letting it sit in a drawer to never see the light of day again. This instance was an exception in that I’ve had a surge of social media hits and some correspondence emails. I guess it doesn’t hurt to be optimistic.
In terms of taking photos this year, I like to think I’ve stepped my game up quite a bit. I turned up with a respectable Canon 600D paired with a semi vintage 28-70mm lens which made me look like someone who knew what they were doing. I did have a few instances where people would ask me to take pictures thinking I was an event photographer which put off guard a couple of times, though Marie – my event correspondent – kindly assured me that it only meant that I looked the part.
The event participators were noticeably growing tired and less wary as the days went by. Some representatives spoke with disinterested tones and were throwing in a few expletives when in conversation. The fact that I wasn’t a distinguished client or journalist also played a factor.
I will ultimately say that my biggest regret for the event was not properly planning out how I would approach the event from a (semi) professional standpoint. Timekeeping was a bit amok as I ended up skipping over some brands entirely. I suppose the aforementioned ‘free-for-all’ nature means that I was staying true to how I usually do things. I’ve come to understand that I need to strike a balance between enjoying myself and focussing on building content. Though if I’m not having fun I’ve pretty much missed the point of starting the Watchrant, haven’t I?