Monday , 17 June 2024
Hôtel Beaulac Neuchâtel

Premiere: “Golden Hour”at Beaulac in Neuchatel

On the weekend of June 9-11, 2023, the Best Western Hotel Beaulac hosted the first watchevent (exhibition, auction, galadinner) at “Kaiserwetter”. Apromising concept with high acceptance. Behind it was pure feminine power: Lena bint Wail (Hotel Beaulac), Fabienne Lupo (ReLuxury) and Marina Coelho (Sparkling PR).

After Baselworld “past” due to arrogance and greed of the MCH top management, the exodus of Baselworld exhibitors inevitably inflated Watches & Wonders in Geneva to an impersonal XXL mega-platform deprived of any family component.

Consumers and retailers, however, are drawn to small intimate events. Individuality is the motto of our time. The “Golden Hour” has occupied this niche. Lena bint Wail, a watch lover herself, says: “The Neuchâtel region, cradle of watchmaking and worldwide ambassador of this fascinating savoir-faire, awaits with an extraordinary wealth of testimonies to this Swiss know-how.”

“Neuchâtel is the birthplace of watchmaking. As early as the end of the 17th century, Neuchâtel’s peasant watchmakers were making watches that were sold all over the world,” says Mrs. Lena bint Wail, describing her motivation for launching this future annual platform for the watchmaking industry, and she has struck a chord.

Entrepreneur and watch lover Ms. Lena bint Wail, Hotel Beaulac, Neuchatel

The 27-year-old young woman, with roots in Qatar and raised in Canada, is a board member of the hotel her family owns – and a watch aficionada. And wants to do something for the industry. She has invited watchmakers in the canton to present watches and craftsmanship at the “Beaulac” – for no money. As a treat of the “Golden Hour,” which will then take place every year, watches from Wail Abbas’ collection will be auctioned off, online and offline, accessible free of charge to anyone and everyone.

Beaulac Rooftop the place to be for high-end luxury

The Beaulac Rooftop hosted the most diverse exhibitors. Brands had a new platform there to present their novelties: Greubel Forsey. Antonio Calce shareholder and CEO of Greubel Forsey looked dazzling. Tanned, well-fed and fashionably dressed in a dark blue suit with white shirt and white Louis Vuitton sneakers, he disappeared with Gregory Pons to the roof terrace and came back only after 1.5 hours for the gala dinner. This was despite the fact that I had made an appointment with Caroline Pita, PR Manager. I had also spoken to Antonio Calce briefly, he told me to come for 3 minutes, but he had disappeared to the terrace. I then met him again at the gala dinner, but he was busy.


Florian Offerhaus (Panerai Brand Manager), Lena bint Wail (Golden Hour, Hotel Beaulac).

Panerai was also on board with Golden Hour. “The new women’s collection was very well received,” said Panerai Brand Director, Florian Offerhaus. “Panerai is actually a masculine brand,” Offerhaus says. “The Panerai Luminor Due – 38 mm (PAM01273) is Panerai’s first collection specifically dedicated to ladies. This timepiece features a 38mm case and a shiny polished alligator leather strap. Moreover, it captivates with a dazzling dark blue color, reminiscent of the vastness of the sea. It has also been given a stylish new slim profile that – in keeping with the actress lifestyle – is equally suited to formal occasions, sporting activities and every occasion in between,” says Offerhaus who is also a good salesman. Jean-Marc Pontroue, Panerai CEO, whom I still know from Roger Dubuis, was unfortunately unable to attend. I was allowed to accompany Dr. Angelo Bonati, Mr. Panerai, my vintage, from the beginning, he is already retired and enjoys his second great passion: “Sailing”.


Unfortunately, I searched in vain at the Zenith booth of the Golden Hour the Zenith CEO Julien Tornare, whom I also know and accompany for a long time. The booth was guarded by an employee. There was no news from Zenith in sight.


(from left to right) Patrik Hoffmann (WatchBox), Czapek CEO, Xavier de Roquemaurel, Patrik Capek (Czapek Head of Staff).

Czapek CEO Xavier de Roquemaurel, in light casual wear, made an all-around satisfied impression. In 2015, he jumped into the project with the Czapek brand; in spring 2016, he presented the venture at the Basel trade show – and returned with a single order. In the long term, he wants to reach the 3000 watches per year mark. Verticalization is the magic word. In early September 2022, the company’s own case production started. “If we don’t have cases, we can’t deliver. And that would mean losing control of our development pace,” says the Czapek CEO.

With the introduction of the Antarctique collection, Czapek was literally overrun. Almost 85 percent of demand is for Antarctique. Now he wants to put a stop to orders. Unfortunately, this decision is incomprehensible. Xavier de Roquemaurel comments. “When you are confronted with an order backlog of almost 3000 orders that far exceeds production capacity, the question arises as to how you can still manage to offer new products. We have therefore decided to stop taking orders for the Antarctique and instead launch new models. New versions of the calibre with a seven-day power reserve and further variants of the existing collections. It is impossible to run a company that no longer launches novelties on the market”.

Czapek Head of Staff, Patrick Capek, entrepreneur and protagonist of “Golden Hour” Lena bint Wail, Czapek CEO Xavier de Roquemaurel with his wife on the roof-top of the Hotel Beaulac Neuchatel.

“Czapek today relies on a community of 200 shareholders. The last capital increase took place in 2019. If a shareholder should part with his package, existing shareholders always have a right of first refusal. Only then are the shares offered externally. In total, we have completed six financing rounds with a sum of 5.7 million,” says Patrick Capek, Czapek Chief of Staff. Regarding the price spectrum, Capek says: “It ranges from 10,000 to 100,000 Swiss francs and is quite broad”. To get straight to distribution, too. “One quarter direct, three quarters indirect through 30 sales outlets worldwide. We will open more, but we don’t want more than 50 points of sale.” “The most important sales markets for us are, in this order: North America, Japan, Europe with Germany, the Netherlands and Great Britain, the Middle East with Dubai, and Asia with Hong Kong and China” says Czapek to TICK-TALK.


Alain Silberstein: “Staying down is not an option for me, only those who get up reward life”

Alain Silberstein Object iZman

Alain Silberstein ventured a new start with his brand after suffering a crash landing. Collaborations with various watch brands such as Louis Erard, etc., have put him back at the centre of things. His object iZman is reminiscent of a cross between an old iPhone and a Swiss army knife. When Alain saw me he said: “I remember you and the good old TOURBILLON time with pleasure and wistfulness”. I was allowed to accompany Alain in his early days.


Susanne Hurni, Patrik Hoffmann

Watchbox, the world’s leading watch company, was not to be missed at the Golden Hour. The business angels of WatchBox Neuchatel – Patrick Hoffmann, Susane Hurni – were in a good mood, they had “home advantage”. In addition, WatchBox had acquired the luxury watch brand DeBethune.

My personal favourites: Francoise-Paul Journe, far left the first two watches.

“We are more than connoisseurs – we are also collectors. We would never tell you to buy a watch that we wouldn’t have bought ourselves first,” says Patrik Hoffmann.

Greubel Forsey CEO Antonio Calce, Susanne Hurni WatchBox, Fabienne Lupo Re-Luxury, Patrick Hoffmann WatchBox

Patrik Hoffmann and Susanne Hurni have their own consulting business and spend only 40 percent of their working time at WatchBox Neuchatel.

At the Watchbox stand, I also ran into an old acquaintance, Jean-Marie Schaller, Louis Moinet CEO, in his usual extroverted attire with Micaela Bartolucci. I was also allowed to accompany him from the beginning.


(left in the picture) BA111OD founder and protagonist Thomas Baillod talking to customers.

Also the Swiss startup BA111OD, which was founded with the aim of reshaping the traditional business model of distribution. “Our goal is to offer spectacular Swiss-made mechanical watches at prices never seen before in the industry. How do we achieve this? Explore our website to learn more about our unique “we-commerce” approach! “, says founder and protagonist Thomas Baillod.

The Neuchâtel watch brand “BA111OD” has made a name for itself in a short time since its launch in 2019 “by being different”. The tourbillon watch “The Veblen Dilemma”, priced under 5000 Swiss francs, generated a lot of response and a high sales success. With an innovative “phygital” sales concept, brand founder Thomas Baillod is moving closer to the end customer and has fundamentally reformed pricing.

The BA111OD Unikat Edition Chapter 4 T.V.D Tourbillon was knocked down at the Golden Hour Iconeek Aucktion for 7,000 Swiss francs; the estimated price was between 4,500 and 7,500 Swiss francs.

The Neuchâtel watchmaker of the Ba111od brand is different in many ways. It starts with its name. The fact that it is difficult to pronounce is a deliberate decision by its founder, Thomas Baillod, whose name nevertheless shines through behind the brand name. “A name that no one really knows how to pronounce is a bit of a mystery and a source of additional conversation,” says Baillod.

At the heart of BA111OD’s concept is the approach of thinking from the end customer’s point of view in order to offer them watches of the best possible quality at the best possible price. That’s why it does without classic structures with dealers, agents and distributors. To be as close as possible to the end customer with the watches, without a classical presence in the shop – the BAC system was born. Where B stands for Business or the brand, C for Consumer (the potential end customer) and A as the dynamic middle link for “Afluendor”, i.e. the existing end customer who is at the same time ambassador, influencer and vendor of the watches.


UTINAM Besançon protagonist and watchmaker Philippe Lebru

Utinam. The name says it all: it stands for “wishes that can be fulfilled” and this in Besancon. Utinam is dedicated to the design and manufacture of Comtoiser and contemporary watches and movements with innovative design. Mechanical watches with lever movement, made and assembled in the Utinam workshops.

UTINAM Besançon & Philippe Lebru The watchmaker who dreamed of mastering time…

Under the Utinam Besançon© brand and the impulse of its creator, watchmaking in Franche-Comté is revolutionising itself. Technological, subversive, creative, the Utinam watch is an experience. A perception of the individual’s exclusive relationship with the measurement of time.

A history of time that its designer has been exploring since 1993. Thus he realised several spectacular clocks, in the TGV station of Besançon, on the façade of the Musée des Beaux-Arts, in Tokyo the AoyAmA. clock.


Geneva-based Visiodome is responsible for digital transformation in the watch industry.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, one of the biggest challenges for the watch industry is how to present and display watches remotely. Various solutions are on the market to support brands and retailers. One of them comes from the well-known studio Brandstorm. Its solution called “Visiodome” was used in the last purely digital edition of Watches and Wonders.

The penultimate Watches and Wonders edition in Geneva, which was entirely digital due to the pandemic, served as a large-scale test for a new plug-and-play solution developed by Brandstorm, a Swiss studio specialising in brand architecture. Visiodome, a compact video production studio, is an initiative designed to facilitate the presentation of timepieces at a distance – a particularly urgent challenge since the outbreak of the coronavirus. Many of us first learned of the existence of Zoom and Teams in March 2020, and the first online presentations were less than impressive!


Visiodome protagonist Raphaël Henry

The luxury industry is a demanding environment, even online; off-the-shelf or improvised solutions will not suffice. This is the promising gap that Raphaël Henry, founder of Brandstorm, wants to exploit – after all, we are still at the very beginning of digital learning in the watch industry. In “normal” times, he is a well-known designer of boutiques and pop-ups as well as stands for the big annual watch gatherings (e.g. Baselworld or SIHH – read this portrait from 2003). This year’s 100% digital Watches & Wonders fair gave him the opportunity to unveil another facet of his activity with Visiodome.


Richard Lundin, master engraver & chaser: We saw each other and understood each other right away. It was sympathy at first click. He is a pleasure to talk to, he expresses himself in a very chosen almost literary way. We talked in English and then switched to Swedish, because Richard was born in Sweden and I spent a long time in Scandinavia working. Richard is, for me, one of the most talented hand engravers and stone setters I have met in the watch industry. It is always a pleasure to visit him in his “atelier” and see his new fantastic creations. I would highly recommend Richard to any brand that wants exceptional and personalised timepieces. He makes each piece unique.

Richard Lundin in conversation with clients

Richard Lundin has worked for the most prestigious companies such as Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, Audemars Piguet to name a few, as well as a number of independent designers. Richard’s experience has given him the privilege of designing exclusive jewellery for royal families, well-known personalities from the world of acting and politics on an international level.
Finally, Richard believes that craftsmanship plays a fundamental role in enhancing the value of luxury products.


Silvio Rodrigues

Iconeek “Golden Hour” Charity Auction at Beaulac

ICONEEK was commissioned by Golden Hour to conduct the charity auction at the Beaulac in Neuchatel, as Iconeek has been a major player in Geneva for 7 years in the expertise, sale and certification of modern watches and collectibles. The proceeds of 12 lots of the auction went to the “L’enfant c’est la vie” Foundation.

The owners of Iconeek, Fabien and Vanessa Chicha, have more than 25 years of experience in this field and have built up a trusted network of watch lovers who know they will receive the best service, attention and care. It is also interesting to note that Iconeek is the only Geneva watch auction house that does not charge a sales commission, regardless of the price of the timepiece.

At the Golden Hour hybrid auction (physical, online as well as by phone), this was the fifth “Timeless & Iconeek Timepieces” auction, 155 lots came up for sale in two sessions – one on 10 June and one on 11 June 2023.

Geneva auctioneer Fabien Chica in his element

In the first session, 30 lots went under the hammer. In general, the lots all went at the estimated price, and some were knocked down below the estimated value. The public was not eager to buy and shied away from risks. Worth mentioning and interesting: A platinum membership of “The Fine Watch Club” was auctioned for a mere 600 Swiss francs, behind which stands Brice Lechevalier with his GMT Publishing. For example, the “Audemars Piguet Experience” was knocked down for 1,100 Swiss francs. It is simply a visit to the production facilities and the museum in Le Brassus where the head office is located. Greubel Forsey also gilded a visit to the company in La Chaux-des-Fonds with 2,200 Swiss francs. A visit to Jaeger Le-Coultre was a bargain at 750 Swiss francs.

A Girard-Perregaux WW.TC World Time Perpetual Calendar REf. 90280-52-131-BACA in pink gold and with a silver white dial from 2018 was knocked down at 17,000 Swiss francs, making it the most expensive piece at the first session. Some watches did not find a new owner, among them my personal favourite, a Patek Philippe Ref. 3940R, which is no longer produced. My table neighbour, Patrick Capek, Czapek Head of Staff, said: “The market has been filled with speculators over the last few years, who artificially inflated the market. Today, the situation has consolidated, because the only audience we have are real collectors and watch enthusiasts.”


More coming soon on this channel …….

About Karl Heinz Nuber

Nuber ist langjähriger unabhängiger Uhren Journalist und begann seine Karriere in den frühen 80er Jahren. Durch das Sammeln kam er zum Schreiben. Er ist Gründer des vierteljährlich regelmässig bilingual – Deutsch und English - erscheinenden TOURBILLON Magazin’s, der digitalen TOURBILLON Plattform TICK-Talk, der Ausstellungs- und Event Plattform Art of TOURBILLON und TOURBILLON TV. Er tritt regelmässig als Kenner der Branche in Erscheinung.

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