I didn't realise I could cram so many events into such a short period of time. There has been some event or launch every week or weekend for the past few weeks. I've been lucky enough to travel with friends to some amazing watch related places recently and to meet some amazing watchmakers, independent micro brand owners, famous podcasters and YouTube influencers.
Here is a (hopefully) brief summary of what's been going on. Enjoy.
First up we took a drive to the south east of Ireland to Waterford which was for the 2nd year hosting the Festival of Time. This show attracts some serious watchmaking elite . Some of the highlights included getting to meet the amazing Kari Voutilainen and having the opportunity to see some of his pieces first hand (I refuse to say "in the metal" it sounds so bizarre) The level of finishing on his watches is just stunning and Mr Voutilainen himself is an absolute gentleman to talk to. I just have to find a spare €200,000 and wait for about 5 years for a watch to become available.
Another fantastic watchmaker from Ireland who I got so spend some time with was John McGonnigle. While looking at his beautifully finished Oilean (Irish for Island) chronograph he made my day by saying that my Zenith El Primero was the best automatic chronograph ever made. He clarified the comment when I mentioned about his chronograph and he said "Automatic" chronograph. His is a hand wound marvel.
I was also delighted to get a chance to speak to Giles from Schofield watches. Giles was generous with his time last year when I was discussing my issues with sourcing a solution for my winding mechanism for the Retro-Bot. I had tried to create something from the ground up but it was proving to be very time consuming and expensive. Giles suggested I contact SwissKubik as they have been known to supply movements. It proved to be a massive turning point in the design and completion of the Retro-Bot, so I am forever grateful to him for that advice.
Next up was a Tudor launch party hosted by Paul Sheeran Jewellers in Dublin at the Roe & Co whiskey distillery. The venue was fantastic and we were treated to a selection of drinks paired with various new Tudor watches such as the recently released FXD Chronograph Alinghi. A very nice piece and lovely to try on. I ran into a lot of good friends from the Dublin Watch Group - even one of our UK members who had travelled over for his 50th birthday and treated himself to a new watch from one of the other members of the group Bryan Leech of Sidereus watches.
Bryan is someone I have known for a long time since he was my design lecturer when I studied Industrial Design in Carlow a long time ago and we recently rekindled our friendship at last years Festival of Time. He was also the person who invited me to join the Dublin Watch Group. A group that has been my tribe and been the foundation of several new friendships that I wouldn't have come across without them.
I'd also like to mention how good Paul Sheeran's have been to me as I have been shown amazing warmth whenever I have called in to their new boutiques in Dublin's city centre. The new building they launched earlier this year host: IWC, Panerai, JLC, Cartier, Breitling, Tudor and Tag Heuer and an honourable mention to Geoff, Alex and David for being great hosts too.
I've saved the biggest and best for last with the RedBar Global meet up 2023 in Edinburgh. Between Sunday the 2nd and Tuesday the 4th of October watch lovers/collectors/brands/independents all descended on Edinburgh for the 4th global meet up. Various watch boutiques held hosting events throughout Sunday. Vacheron Constantin showcased some newly launched pieces such as the new green dial Traditionnelle manual wind in gold. I arrived a bit early so I got my own personal event before the rest of the RedBar masses turned up. Other Boutiques such as Breitling, Omega, Goldsmiths and Chisholm Hunter showcased a lot of new and interesting pieces too. All of this was just a small taste of what was to come as RedBar had a fantastic night in store for us with Bremont. Bremont hosted an exclusive night in All Bar One where they gave us all a sneak preview of their new releases. Nobody was allowed to take pictures or to discuss the releases on display but they offered some interesting updates to their offerings. It was a great night and I maanged to spend some time talking to Kathleen Mc Givney and Adam Craniotes from Redbar, Davide Cerrato from Bremont and also Adrian Barker from About Effing Time/ Bark & Jack. All were delightful to talk to and I even managed to discuss the Retro-Bot with Adrian. He'd love to feature it on About Effing Time but alas they are sponsored by another watch winding company. Maybe next season?!
Day 2 was hosted in the Caledonian Waldorf Astoria hotel where a large ball room was the location for the various independent brands to show their latest models. But before the doors open to the ball room there is a bit of whisky tasting to be had beforehand. This is an odd one for me for several reasons. First is the fact that I don't drink alcohol (just zero alcohol options) so I should have probably given this a miss and second there is my proud Irish man opinion that I think Irish Whiskey is better than Scottish Whisky. But I really like Scotland so lets call a truce on that one. It was a very interesting discussion about the various blends even though I wasn't tasting. Their master taster was a fantastic speaker and paired a few watches he owns with each of the whisky's on display. A nice touch indeed.
After this we had the opportunity to be part of the Scottish Watches Podcast. As a listener to their show it was great to see it live and to be part of the fun experience. I managed to speak to Rikki who unfortunately was getting over an illness and was still a bit run down but he made time and was lovely to talk to. They did a small mention of the Retro-Bot on their YouTube channel after the even which was greatly appreciated. Now I'm trying to arrange to see him again but this time I'll be bringing the Retro-Bot. Any excuse to organise a trip to Scotland.
Once the doors opened into the ball room we were spoiled for choice. Brands such as Christopher Ward, Fears, Anordain, Farer, Isotope, Baltic, Brew, Studio Underdog, Formex and Vertex were all showcasing their watches as were Bulova with their RedBar edition, Frederique Constant and Oris (finally I got to try the steel candy dial divers) My personal favorites were the Moonglow from Christopher Ward which I have had my eye on for a long time. It didn't disappoint when I tried it on. Another one was the pink dial Brunswick from Fears. They got the right tone of pink and the bracelet was excellent. The 3rd one was from Anordain, the new dials on their Model 3 were stunning, the watch overall wouldn't be my style but you cant help but admire the finish.
Later that evening everything was cleared away and we all had food and drinks and got to talk with the various brand owners and embassadors. I also ran in to Adrian from About Effing Time again taking pictures of a nice Richard Mille surrounded by food (something to do with a phobia Adrian McUtchen has) Overall it was an amazing trip with some stunning watches and fantastic people. Can't wait for the next one.