“Geneva at the Heart of Time – The Origin of Swiss Cartier replica Watchmaking Culture” opened in Beijing at end April. The exhibition was patiently brought to fruition by the Capital Museum in Beijing, the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire in Geneva and Vacheron Constantin, and is already a landmark event in Asia.
On a warm April evening in Beijing, excitement mounted with the impending inauguration of Geneva at the Heart of Time, an exhibition tracing five centuries of watchmaking history. And for good reason. Like any project on such a grand scale, years of preparation became a last-minute marathon as teams raced to ensure that every detail would be ready on time. For the past three weeks, staff from the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire in Geneva and from Vacheron Constantin had been busy taking delivery of exhibits, dealing with customs clearance and overseeing installation to a design by scenographers from the Capital Museum. A true example of teamwork without which the exhibition would never have seen daylight, but one that was not without difficulties given the cultural idiosyncrasies of the three partners involved. Fortunately, the thread that tied them all together and provided the context for the exhibition – the 65th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Switzerland and China – proved sufficiently strong to smooth any differences.
The buzz in the air was also due to the fact that this would be the largest horological exhibition ever on Asian soil. More than 350 timepieces, tools, paintings and engravings, including a third from Vacheron Constantin’s own heritage collection, took over the 1,300 square metres of exhibition space, part of which had been set aside for workbenches where the public could observe a master cheap fake Omega watchmaker, engraver, enameller and engine-turner from the Genevese manufacture. And what a public this would be! Opened in 2006 and already one of the city’s foremost museums, each year the Capital welcomes in the region of three million visitors, with peaks at more than 15,000 a day over weekends and public holidays. The Chinese are well-known for their interest in finely-crafted mechanical timepieces, and with this in mind the organisers can realistically expect around one million people to have seen the show by August 12th, the last day of this journey to the “origin of Swiss watchmaking culture”.
A unique occasion
Such a prospect is music to the ears for Vacheron Constantin, one of the most highly-prized names in watchmaking among the Chinese. With 22 points of sale across the country, including three own-name boutiques in Beijing and Shanghai, this year the Geneva firm is celebrating its 170th year in the Middle Kingdom. Ninety years after it was established, halfway through the nineteenth century when Swiss-made “Chinese watches” were all the rage, Vacheron Constantin was taking its first steps on Chinese soil, never to leave. “This historical context is clearly one of the reasons that prompted us to become a partner to this exhibition, alongside the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire and the Capital Museum,” said Juan-Carlos Torres, CEO of Vacheron Constantin. “We want this exhibition to bring us closer to people who appreciate beautiful timepieces, to connoisseurs and of course all those who have an affinity with the brand. They will discover timepieces that trace Vacheron Constantin’s savoir-faire over more than two and a half centuries of uninterrupted history. It is a privilege for us to be able to show them.”
“Many Chinese are great admirers of Swiss Omega replica watches,” declared Jean-Jacques de Dardel, Swiss ambassador to China, in his opening address. “In this respect, Swiss watchmaking makes an important contribution to our country’s reputation in China as a sign of our dynamism, creativity and command of industrial and technological processes. All of which Swiss watchmakers transform into masterpieces of art and science.” Vacheron Constantin has applied this message to the letter and made this a unique opportunity to meet customers and partners from all over Asia. As Yang Wenying, deputy director of the Capital Museum, pointed out, this is ultimately more than just an exhibition as it presents exceptional creations governed by the very concept of time. And to love time is to love life!