This year, I chose not to title this “AWCI at JCK 2016” because year after year, there are more and more horologically relevant activities to participate in during the first weekend of June in Las Vegas. Last year, we experienced the notable growth of Couture, taking place at the luxurious Wynn. Couture is a show designed for retailers of fine jewelry only, which AWCI was able to access as members of the press. It’s a stark difference from the busy hustle and bustle of the JCK show, which allows all relevant industry members to attend, everyone from designers to manufacturers to watchmakers. However, JCK saw a noticeable drop in attendance this year while at the same time expanding the exhibitor space by up to 30%. This helped a little with how busy it seemed at times, but also seemed a little worrisome to the industry that relies on sustaining itself through new customer orders every spring/summer season.
This year we saw the debut of the World Watch Market. The first-ever show of its kind open to the general public and select members of the press. The show took place 64 stories up on the top floor of the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas. The show was organized by Glen Bowen, Ehren Bragg, and Stephen Mandell. Bowen is the founding publisher of Watch Journal magazine. Bragg is the co-founder of the watch brand Devon Works, LLC, and the current owner of watch distributor Envoy Trading LLC. Mandell is a prolific conceptual artist with large collections of luxury watches and writing instruments.
The concept of the show is simple: bring watch designers and manufacturers together with the passionate collector bases that really drive the interest in their products. For example, you can sit down and view the collection over a private conversation with Pierre Dubois, founder and CEO of Pierre DeRoche, a watch brand with exclusive complications produced by his brothers Jean-Philippe and Pascal of Dubois-Dépraz. You can also meet and discuss the development of Vortic Watches with the company’s COO, Tyler Wolfe, and CEO, R.T. Custer. You can learn about new emerging brands like Sablier, an American brand with a patent for the only watch in the world with a concave front crystal. You can also salivate as you hold in your hands the $500,000 Christophe Claret Soprano Repeater with Westminster chime. At a time that many companies at JCK and Luxury Watch have made themselves inaccessible, the World Watch Market was a welcome change to the status quo.
Back at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, members of the American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute were on hand to demonstrate Bergeon tools and show proper techniques at a Bergeon watchmaker’s bench. Jordan Ficklin, Tom Schomaker, and I were there to encourage membership in our organization and participation in this year’s annual convention near Chicago. AWCI would like to thank Bergeon for allowing us to share our mission of high standards and education by donating space in their booth. It was another successful year of getting the word out about what AWCI has to offer. I look forward to further collaboration in years to come.
Aaron Recksiek is an independent watchmaker in Salt Lake City, Utah. He is a graduate of the 2008 WOSTEP class at the Lititz Watch Technicum.