The world’s finest watches come to London

FOR the fan of fine watches, it’s not necessarily the easiest thing to saunter into your nearest high-end boutique and ask to be shown the most spectacular timepieces on earth, thank you very much. Haute horlogerie is a world of rare objects that can take weeks, even months, to produce in extremely low volumes via painstaking methods, and they don’t get put in front of just anybody.

Except that once a year in London they do. Salon QP, an event now in its fourth year, is a public exhibition highlighting some of the best and most exclusive watches and watch brands around. Taking place next week from Thursday to Saturday at the Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea, it’s an opportunity for enthusiasts to pore over the kind of horological creations that normally only ever get shown to millionaire private collectors and journalists.

This year’s Salon QP is the biggest yet. Watch brands bringing their finest wares – not for sale, you understand, just for show – include Jaeger-LeCoultre, Girard-Perregaux, Corum, Chopard, Piaget, Zenith, Ulysse Nardin, TAG Heuer and Bremont, as well as more niche collector brands like Christophe Claret, Kari Voutilainen, MB&F and Gronefeld. As well as the watches on display, the line-up includes roundtable talks with watchmakers, industry experts and brand leaders; watchmaking masterclasses hosted by Jaeger-LeCoultre; screenings of the film The Watchmaker’s Apprentice, about the late Dr George Daniels – the greatest watchmaker of the past century, who died a year ago – and his protégé Roger Smith; and the following watches making rare public showings:

1. HARRY WINSTON OPUS 12 (PICTURED)
The fine jewellery house is also a force in haute horlogerie, and its annual Opus series of experimental collectors’ pieces have become a celebrated platform for the world’s best watchmakers. This year’s Opus 12 features no hands, but markers that rotate in position to display the time – see it to believe it, and to understand it.

2. EXPERIMENT ZR012
A bizarre sci-fi gizmo of a watch with a movement inspired by the Wankel rotary combustion engine. A collaboration between avant-garde brands MB&F and Urwerk, this watch can normally only be seen by private appointment in Geneva.

3. TAG HEUER MIKROTOURBILLONS
One of the strangest and most intoxicating mechanisms of recent times, a chronograph that can measure to 1/100th of a second accuracy.

4. HARRODS UNIQUE PIECES
A year ago Harrods launched its really rather remarkable Fine Watchmaking room. To celebrate, brands including Vacheron Constantin, Hublot, Breguet and Zenith have created unique watches, on display at Salon QP.