VO’Clock Privé, the contemporary watchmaking lounge for timepiece enthusiasts, closed on Sunday. A unique and original B2C format devised by Italian Exhibition Group that gathered together the very best of watchmaking, high-end brands, independent creators, the most authoritative institutions, collectors and watch lover communities in the foyer on the first floor of Vicenza Expo Centre, from 8th to 10th September, for three days dedicated to watchmaking culture.

The second edition – in conjunction with the Vicenzaoro exhibition (8th – 12th September), the gold and jewellery sector’s main B2B trade show in Europe – featured an extended schedule of events, meet-ups, talks, courses and workshops: the protagonists of no less than 20 meetings were the brands with their history, the most sought-after timepiece models, innovations and new entries and the creativity of independent watchmakers. Tudor, Zenith, Hublot and Bulgari organised just some of the appointments that involved opinion leaders, collectors and watchmaking personalities, such as Beppe Ambrosini and Bruno Bergamaschi (aka Giorgione), as well as prestigious Geneva institutions such as the FHH and the independent watchmaking masters from the AHCI.

VO’Clock Privé acts as a one-of-a-kind sharing and learning platform. The format was created by listening to the needs of watch manufacturers, who participated with their content and were thus able to directly meet their community of admirers, tell their stories and be in immediate contact with their target market.
Top brands included Bulgari, which traced the last decade: «We strongly believed and invested in a new generation of watchmakers and specific know-how for the grande sonnerie» explained Andrea Granalli, high-end watches WW sales director for Bulgari Time SA. «Entering our factory is like entering a cathedral. Silence, light, concentration: a mystical place that has a strong impact on those who visit it. We are now universally recognised as a watchmaking brand by the community of experts and enthusiasts».

A community that, in VO’Clock Privé, has found a unique opportunity to meet, discuss and share experiences. «Proximity is the key word» explains Paolo Cappiello, Regional Brand Director South Europe for Zenith, in Vicenza with his Watch Clinic. «Doing everything from a desk makes you lose the sense of reality and doesn’t allow you to really understand what the customer wants. Appointments of reference for the market, such as VO’Clock Privé, are essential for bringing us closer to our end users. Zenith will certainly continue to participate, this is the ‘village square’ and the village is called Watchmaking».
Tudor, the brand that, in 1954, produced the first diver’s watch of the modern era, was in attendance at VO’Clock Privé with Ander Ugarte, head of design, and Renato Scloza, brand manager Italy, who said: « We had the opportunity to talk about this event with watch lovers and connoisseurs: we are very happy to be able to compare notes in this context. VO’Clock Privé is a wonderful container and I wouldn’t change a thing about it. Here, the various brands, together with enthusiasts and connoisseurs, can express themselves and get to know each other».

To please the touch and the eye, even down to the smallest details. After measuring time, this is a watch’s second duty. In Vicenza, Luca Castellani, World Sales Director at Parmigiani Fleurier, underlined the importance of restoration: « This event attracts an increasingly interested public. It is fundamental for an Italian company: it is the only point of reference and meeting place for jewellery and watchmaking lovers».

Bruno Bergamaschi (aka Giorgione), one of the most recognised watchmaking experts in Italy, founder of the Watchouse forum and ambassador of IEG’s B2C events specifically for watchmaking, concluded: «The Vicenza Expo Centre is a safe place where we can talk about our passion with good courses and good talks: the project is a good one, as are the ideas behind it, and it is undoubtedly a reference event that will grow considerably over time».

Compared to classic watchmaking tradition, what is expected of independent craftsmen is that extra touch of genius. Design and mechanical innovation are its hallmarks and these are only possible with production numbers that trickle out over the space of a year. VO’Clock Privé brought to Vicenza some of the most esteemed master watchmakers from the prestigious AHCI (Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants). Personalities like Ludovic Ballouard , a craftsman who makes 30 pieces a year featuring some of the sector’s most admired “complications”. «As a watchmaker» he explains, «the priority is the watch’s precision, which historically, has always been combined with great attention to the aesthetic aspect».
Quality and aesthetics are not the exclusive feature of wristwatches alone. According to Alessandro Rigotto, creator of interior design, table and wall clocks: «With a limited production, you can target niche markets. My idea of a handcrafted watch is developed with a limited production where unusual working processes, special ideas and a different approach can be adopted».

«This latest VO’Clock Privé event confirms the excellent outcome of the first edition. It captures the attention of experts and stimulates networking between operators and a passionate and loyal public», pointed out AHCI co-founder Vincent Calabrese , who presented his Calasys system in Vicenza two years ago. «A gamble that turned out to be a winner, since the events in conjunction with Vicenzaoro, both for vintage and independent and contemporary watchmaking, are proving to be great drivers of knowledge and innovation in the sector, both in terms of the quality of the events and the presence of national and international reference brands».

There is more made in Italy in the present and near future of watch manufacturing. Not only the Italian Touch, which already makes the difference in Switzerland, as highlighted in the talk with Mario Peserico, managing director of Eberhard & Co., and Marcello Binda, CEO of Wyler Vetta, but an epochal turning point that from habillage will see Italy also playing a leading role in mechanics. A new Renaissance just around the corner that encourages association and networking. From the design of the case, to the movement; the heart of the watch. Illustrating the scenario during the various panels of VO’Clock Privé’s educational programme and technical seminars was Ugo Pancani, Professor of Mechanical and Electronic Watchmaking and trainer at FHH (Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie) in Geneva, in conversation with the likes of Sandro Fratini, Auro Montanari and Marco Mantovani, to name but a few. « An opportunity has been created in Vicenza to gather together potentialities that will bring great results in the future», he commented. « Vicenzaoro is the first trade show to realise the importance of focusing attention on the watchmaking world. Vicenza is now a reference point that has achieved two objectives: to bring together people who aim to develop Italian watchmaking and those who need the culture of the sector».