Sunday, 30 June 2013


Now I'm not going to pretend to know diddly squat about watches, beyond picking one for an appropriate occasion, as well as the best universal wardrobe selection. That's really it. I don't even own one; a fact that comes as no surprise to those who really know me well...

Somerset House Courtyard
That's why I honestly wasn't overly excited about visiting The Watch Salon at Somerset House. But as one of the main events during Jewellery Week, I wasn't about to pass up the opportunity to experience an event I wouldn't otherwise take much notice of under normal circumstances. After all, the events so far had already taught me that nothing about JW13 was what I had expected it to be. Not to mention, I fell head over heels in love with the absolutely gorgeous landmark when I visited for the first time during Fashion Week. There is little to no chance I would ever pass up an excuse to immerse myself in it's historical beauty and elegance.

My very first stop on the Embankment Galleries ground floor, was the Seiko Room, where a very friendly representative put me straight on exactly how big the watch business really is worldwide. I'd had no idea! Ok now my interest was piqued; we were in the land of learning, that place I called Home. Lead on to the next!

Daniel Wellington
The diversity between the Daniel Wellington and Bering brands fuelled my knowledge thirst. Event contributors bqw had stands housing so much net worth, that I couldn't even begin to estimate the cost in that one room. I would have enquired more about the trading company but unfortunately the glum, unwelcoming staff took one look at my camera and name badge, then proceeded to busy themselves elsewhere - specifically, with the people who at least looked like they came to spend money. Message received loud and clear, moving swiftly on...

And wasn't it just as well. Like a well taught lesson in life, there was no time to dwell on the frosty reception I had just received, when right next door was my favourite room throughout the entire exhibition! The Kenneth Cole and Ted Baker collections not only had the nicest, most welcoming staff I had yet to meet, whom I had a great conversation with; but also the most creative, interesting and visually stimulating layout of the entire wing. The Ted Baker display literally told a tale. At first, I actually didn't realise I was looking at an exhibition stand; it was so homely that it was out of place; and yet that was it's appeal. It stood out because you initially dismissed it as a working corner, with it's antique desk, books, perfume bottles and coat stand, until you looked closer, and saw the various pieces and products interwoven with this beautiful corner story full of character. Whoever came up with their display is most definitely my kind of person - truly magnificent!

Ted Baker Armoire Exhibit

Eventually dragging myself away (with brute force), I next found myself in a room full of assorted brands, housing everything from Puma to the label that earned the award for biggest jawdropper of the entire Jewellery Week event. More about them in a moment...

Annette Allen's London Skyline Strap - Source Watches, O.W.L. Collection
Again, the diversity of those in the room was it's biggest appeal. You had every style from neon youth, to 'Maverick-style' aviation, to Landscaped London Ladies, to the decadence of Monaco.

Jorg Gray, Adriatica, Espirit, Torgoen Swiss (complete with a Top Gun-like, aviator mannequin in proper breathing apparatus) and Jacob Jensen all showcased enticing designs with welcoming representatives only too happy to engage, network, and speak in depth about their brands (take note bqw, that is how you exhibit). But it was O.W.L. collection designer and Managing Director, Annette Allen, who really stopped me in my tracks. A year in the literal making; I was fascinated by the imaginative strap designs - the London cityscape in particular. A lovely lady with an interesting story to tell, I was glued to her designs as she explained the inspirations behind them. Do look out for her if you're visiting this week's London Watch Show (trade event). Ms. Allen is definitely One To Watch...(every pun in the world, intended).

But it was the next two stands that brought about the  aforementioned biggest jawdropping experience of London Jewellery Week. This was when I met Cos Costas, representative for David Mason Watches. Thee watch of Racing car drivers; we struck up an instant brilliant conversation, where he not only talked me through his own brand's serious mechanics - but also introduced me to his neighbours, the AOS Watches brand. I have so much to tell you about the Arthur Oskar Stampfli, one-of-a-kind brand, that it's going to require a post all of it's own. In this 'short' round up however; let me just say that I have never come across designs like those in my life and if I had a spare £30k, I would absolutely drop it on one of these timepieces in the comfortable, secure knowledge that 'One of a Kind' is no throwaway turn of phrase. Roland Stampfli's design is based on the Tibetan 'Wheels of Time'; with futuristic engineering to a degree that I not only had no idea even existed, but couldn't begin to fathom sitting on your wrist!

Whilst I can show you pictures here, it's only right that I leave the proper explanations to the genius himself, as I would only be doing his amazing work a disservice by trying...

As if that wasn't enough, the endearing Mr Stampfli and his equally charming Marketing and PR Manager Jonathan Kopp, then turned my attention to a few luxurious tastes of The Med in a rainy London backyard. A genuine pink crocodile skin iPhone case worth somewhere around of £4,000 and, the Pièce de résistance: an iPhone case, covered in almost nine THOUSAND diamonds! Naturally, the phone fascias cost somewhere in the (upper) region of £400,000 and was so delicate, that Mr Kopp had to handle it with velvet gloves. Before you declare that madness, please take into account that when I returned the following day, my new friend Mr Costas informed me that one of these diamond fascias had been purchased in their Monte Carlo hometown since my last visit!

Almost nine THOUSAND diamonds in total - feel free to count them!

Quite possibly the most captivating thing I'd ever seen - hey, I'm female, and you know what Marilyn said about us girls and diamonds - as I made my way out to the drinks reception taking place in the next room, I realised I was already giddy before I touched a drop; I'd been holding my breath around all that sparkle. After all, if I knocked even one diamond out with a stray huff or a puff, it would cost more than my life's actual net worth to replace, and I just don't have that kind of insurance. Now I'm sorry to lower the tone, but as I sipped on a glass of sparkling white and let my mind digest what I had just seen, all the sensible version of myself could think of, was a conversation I had overheard earlier in the day. A jewellery designer was lamenting over the mobile phone she dropped in the toilet a few days before her collection début at the Treasure trade show, taking place later that week. I think you all know where I'm going with this but if not, let me catch you up: Mobile Phone + (almost) 9000 diamonds + Toilet Bowl = ? Well you do the maths...

Be sure to return for Number...I mean, Part Two!

Until the next...
ES ;)

View The Watch Salon photo album on the ESP Facebook Page. And as always, don't forget to Like, Comment and Share!