In line with Jack Foster’s first article as managing editor at HODINKEE on in-house movements, on June 2nd Fratellowatches visited the EPHJ fair in Geneva. The EPHJ is an annual three-day watch industry fair for manufacturers and suppliers, so an excellent place to learn who produces what for whom.
Even with press accreditation and a photography permission from the fairs organizers, it’s very hard to take interesting pictures as most exhibitors seem to be very shy and afraid to give away ‘secrets’. To me, this quite over-shadows the atmosphere of the fair and unfortunately gives it a somewhat grim character, for outsiders that is at least.
The fair looks like any ordinary trade-fair at first, however on entering the halls and looking at the first booth you bump into, you directly mention the (sales)person rocketing towards you: “Can I help you? What are you looking for? No, no, you’re not allowed to take pictures!” It might be a one-off experience from someone new in the business and not having had his sales training yet. However the exact same happens at the second booth… and the third, the fourth and any further booth you try visiting.
The whole fair screams ‘don’t get here if you don’t just need anything for your and from our business. We don’t need nor want snoopers, journalists and the lot’.
So visiting this fair as an ‘outsider’ might be a bit of a disappointing experience at first, however this as well shows perfectly how delicate the production and manufacture of high-end wrist watches is. It seems there’s a lot to hide and a lot to lie about in order not to spoil the image of these feel-good products and their heritage.
Anyhow, I’m happy to have visited the fair (for the second time now) and was able again to get some more industry insights.
At the fair exhibitors can be found in any field of watch production and supply. Case-, dial-, hands-, crowns-, bracelet- and strap manufacturers – you name it. Interesting to see as well are the suppliers of tools, work benches, testing- and measuring equipment, oils, chemicals, packaging and so on. You only realize if you see this all what an enormous industry it takes to produce your watch before you put in onto your wrist.
Enjoy the rest of the pictures I was able to take here below; who knows you might recognize some products 😉
Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
Gerard has been in the watch industry for over two decades now. He owned a watch shop in The Hague, The Netherlands, and besides that he has journalistic and photographic activities in the field of watches. Collecting watches since he... read more