This may not be the best of times for the luxury watch industry, hit by the Chinese slowdown and the terrorism threat deterring travellers, but the lure of rare and special timepieces is being celebrated in a summer exhibition at Harrods, from Friday July 1 to mid-August. Made with Love and Precision sums up the delicate craftwork and passion that goes into the best models. This is the first time the store has devoted such an extensive area to horology – a reflection of current interest. All the Brompton Road windows will be devoted to watches – also a first, and not an easy task with such small items, but a creative approach, with oversize replicas and an emphasis on rare materials and craftsmanship, ensures a spectacular display.
In the Fine Watch Room, a number of brands will run interactive activities for customers, including engraving workshops and watchmaking demonstrations. The biggest draw, however, will be the large number of models never seen before, some specially designed for the exhibition, others exclusive to Harrods till later in the year, many made only in tiny editions. No fewer than 23 brands have produced exclusive models for the exhibition, including some star rarities. From a horological viewpoint, one of the most exciting is the Rotonde de Cartier Double Tourbillon Mystérieux (price on request), with its mesmerising “floating” tourbillon, which has its world debut here – only 20 are being made. Another connoisseurs’ buy is Breguet’s Harrods Classique Special Edition 7337 (£29,300, first picture) in white gold – a special version of the classic moonphase with day and date, with a pleasing mid-blue dial that emphasises its fine hand-guilloché work. It is exclusive to Harrods for 2016.
For sheer extravagance, the women’s Harry Winston Premier Moon Phase (£25,700) takes some beating. Another debut model, with a finely crafted, fretted mother-of-pearl dial and a diamond bezel, it was designed in white, but five versions have been made for the exhibition in glowing purple mother-of pearl with a matching alligator strap. Its contrast with the industrial-grey modernity of Omega’s Speedmaster Grey Side of the Moon Meteorite (£9,875, third picture) – innovative in ceramic with the natural geometry of a meteorite dial and nicely judged rose-gold details – shows the breadth of style in this exhibition. It is currently exclusive to Harrods.
A special area of the window, with pop-up shop inside, is given over to rising brand Roger Dubuis, which has two global launches here – a diamond version of the Black Velvet (£26,000, second picture), cased in high-tech carbon fibre and yet very feminine, and the Excalibur 45 Single Tourbillon Skeleton with Black Spinel (£129,900), a signature “star-motif” skeleton with subtle baguette gems. Only eight are being made.
By Harrods’ standards there is something for a particularly wide range of budgets, to wit: Baume & Mercier’s Petite Promesse (from £1,800), a favourite “starter” watch, with a special blush-pink version of its double wrap strap, while the new Reverso One Réédition, the redesigned version of the 85-year-old classic from Jaeger-LeCoultre (£3,700), has its UK launch at the exhibition. All great for watch lovers.