A new consumer wristwatch event is coming to London — where, until recently, the city’s timepiece enthusiasts were able to enjoy a show called SalonQP. WatchPro Market is a welcome newcomer, but it’s also a different type of watch fair event that mixes the ability for an assortment of mostly independent watch brands with the ability to sell directly to consumers who attend.
WatchPro is a watch industry trade publication serving the interests of watch retailers, brand staffers, and associated timepiece industry professionals. I, Ariel Adams, am a frequent contributor to WatchPro as an industry voice and editorial writer. Venturing into consumer territory is new for WatchPro, although its capable team is no stranger to hosting events in London. The opportunities made available by COVID-19’s tampering with traditional watch industry events has allowed groups like wristwatch media to venture into other business directions. With wristwatch brands more interested in reaching consumers than ever before, the WatchPro Market seems like a solid idea in one of the world’s hotspots for wristwatch appreciation and purchasing.
To discuss WatchPro Market, I spoke with WatchPro Co-Founder Rod Corder to learn more. But first, here’s information about the WatchPro Market event for people in the London area who can join. WatchPro Marketplace London will take place on November 7-8, 2020. It will be located at The Old Truman Brewery located in London’s chic Shoreditch district.
Ariel Adams: Is WatchPro Market a response to the shuttering of SalonQP? Or is this an entirely different concept for a London-based watch event?
Rob Corder: WatchPro Market is very different from SalonQP. We are focusing on independent watch brands, many of them launched within the past 10 years and trading predominately through their own e-commerce sites. These brands need to get in front of customers as often as possible, and WatchPro Market will connect them to the young, affluent crowd that flocks to Shoreditch in East London (the equivalent of Brooklyn or Chelsea in New York City) every weekend. We are very likely to create a completely new event next year that will cater to the brands and customers that used to gather at SalonQP. We like that concept as well.
Ariel Adams: Debuting an in-person event during a pandemic is a notably bold move. No doubt your team has considered this. Care to explain to a curious group of collectors why visiting will be worth it?
Rob Corder: We will be following all rules and guidelines when it comes to operating a retail space this year. Right now, the government is positively encouraging retailers, including indoor and outdoor markets, to get back to business as usual, and that message is leading to growing numbers of people getting out and about to shop and socialize. In a micro way, WatchPro Market is precisely what the country needs: It is entrepreneurial, it is stimulating economic activity, and it is able to proceed within all health and safety guidelines. If the rules change, and the event becomes impossible, all exhibiting watch brands will be offered a full refund, so the risk is on our side.
Ariel Adams: 2020 hasn’t been a good year for watch fairs (as both you and I have detailed at length) and it took the lives of both the SIHH and Baselworld names. Is starting a new watch event in the same year wise, or rather is there a major opportunity here that WatchPro has tapped into?
Rob Corder: I have always liked the advice that a good crisis should never go to waste. The global watch business was profoundly changed by the COVID-19 quarter and entrepreneurs that react quickly and correctly will emerge stronger. It may be that the massive Swiss watch fairs never recover their former glories and smaller, local, more focused events will grow instead. WatchPro’s sole mission has always been to help businesses profit from the sale of watches and you will see us launching many more products and services that fulfill this mission moving forward.
Ariel Adams: Tell us about what WatchPro Market is going to be like for consumers. Will you be able to buy watches there? What is that experience going to be like and how will that process be both safe and comfortable?
Rob Corder: It is a market, so watch brands will be less like exhibitors and more like market stallholders. We think it will be far more intimate at the same time as being open to everybody. Watch brands are encouraged to sell watches on the day or take orders for delivery later. In either instance, punters will be able to try on watches, which is not possible when purely shopping online.
Ariel Adams: You shared with me that a lot of watch brands leaped at the opportunity to participate in WatchPro Market early on after announcing it. What do you think the brands are expecting and why do you attribute the immediate interest to?
Rob Corder: Christopher Ward, Seiko, WOLF, TRIBUS, Eliott Brown, MHD Watches, NITE Watches, to name a few that have confirmed they want to participate. Dozens more brands have expressed strong interest, so we are confident we will sell out the 35 stands, which are priced at just £3,000 / $4,000 per pitch.
Ariel Adams: Provided WatchPro Market turns out to be the success you are hoping for, what aspirations does the WatchPro team have for the future of the event?
Rob Corder: WatchPro has three editions for the UK, United States, and Germany and we expect next year to launch WatchPro Markets in major cities like Manchester, Glasgow, Berlin, and Munich. I have to say that it would be unlikely that we will launch in the United States where there is already a WoundUp Watch Fair. We think these are excellent events and we would rather support them than compete with them. That will be better for the industry as a whole.