In just two week’s time SalonQP will throw open its doors to once again reveal a wealth of horological mastery. We cast an eye over some of the independent watchmakers to seek out at the show
By Chris Hall
A visit to SalonQP wouldn’t be complete without taking the chance to marvel at MB&F’s creations. Nowhere else in the UK do you get the chance to see the brand’s entire range – including the permanently crazy clocks – up close to fiddle with, try on and admire. This year we will have the brand new LM2 White Gold Purple, as well as the fantastic HM9 Flow, HM7 Aquapod in suitably tropical green, and the latest addition to the growing family of robot clocks, Grant.
Alongside MB&F, Kari Voutilainen is one of SalonQP’s longest-running exhibitors and one of the most enduringly popular – hardly surprising if you’ve ever seen so much as a picture of the Finnish watchmaker’s work. In truth, images don’t do justice to Voutilainen’s watches, with their impeccable engine-turned dials, vibrant use of colour and his own personal take on classical design. Plus some of the finest movement finishing money can buy.
No-one makes watches like HYT. That’s not gushing hyperbole, just a simple fact: the idea of using miniature liquid-filled tubes to display time is totally unique to them. It’s one of the more unsual horological sights to see at SalonQP, but by the same token, unmissable. The H20 collection has brought a breath of fresh air to the brand’s design language, opening up the watch thanks to a single piece of sapphire crystal that attaches to the caseback and presents the workings of the watch as if under a bell jar.
Czapek & Cie
The brand’s model names might seem a bit of a mouthful to English ears – they are all named for significant locations in the brand’s history – but up close, the watches don’t have the Napoleonic grandiosity they might imply. Yes, you can have fleur-de-lys hands and Roman numerals – on the Quai des Bergues, for example – but you can also have sharp arrowhead hands, SuperLuminova-filled hour markers and a technical style red-tipped chronograph seconds hand on the Faubourg de Cracovie. Inside is a brand new chronograph calibre from esteemed movement maker Vaucher Fleurier; Czapek is the first to use it and it’s a thoroughly modern engine.
Those in the know have long been aware of Rexhep Rexhepi’s skills as a watchmaker – the precocious, somewhat reclusive, Patek Philippe-trained 30 year old has been making headlines for the last few years for his creations; for the most part, tourbillons and monopusher chronographs in avant-garde case shapes. Now, seven years after founding the brand, Rexhepi has embarked on his simplest watches to date, branded under his own name and styled after an altogether more traditional aesthetic. The RR01 is nominated for this year’s GPHG awards – by the time SalonQP arrives, he may be a winner.
At SalonQP we love to welcome a new brand to these shores. This year, pride of place among the newcomers goes to Canadian duo Charles Birchall and Brad Taylor, who together founded Birchall Taylor in 2017 in Toronto, after both studying watchmaking in Le Locle. They will bring Birchall Taylor’s first watch, the aptly named Reference 1, to SalonQP – a 38mm, minimalist, time-only watch with an enamel dial and a micro-rotor calibre from Vaucher Fleurier.
In a short time Vertex has become a firm favourite with indie watch fans – it helps that the man behind the revived brand, Don Cochrane, has an infectious enthusiasm for what he’s doing. Alongside the M100B – a blacked-out version of Vertex’s comeback watch, the M100 (which itself draws heavily from the “Dirty Dozen” WW2 military model), Vertex will be launching its next watch, the MP45, at SalonQP. It’s a monopusher chronograph – we can’t reveal too many details but the watch continues to draw heavily on the brand’s military heritage, and should go down a storm with collectors.
Swedish start-up Bravur is one of an increasing number of brands catching our attention for offering grown-up designs at reasonable prices. It will be showing its latest creations, the brand new “Geography” collection, a range of 39mm GMT watches powered by Sellita SW330-1 movements. Prices start at £1,450.