n the Friday and Saturday of 20 and 21 October, Žofín Palace was transformed into a gathering of watchmaking enthusiasts. The palace’s main premises were packed with 32 exhibiting brands, five more than last year, and each presented not only its current production offer, but also the latest news or watches yet to be unveiled worldwide. Czech watch brands received great attention, among them was certainly the manufacturer Elton hodinářská, whose brand Prim Manufacture 1949 was supported by its ambassador Taťána Kuchařová, who, alongside Igor Sirota, Aleš Pohanka, Jan Lidmaňský and Jan Pokorný, also ceremonially cut the ribbon on the exhibition’s opening day.
“I’m extremely happy that interest in the exhibition and thus in watches themselves is significantly increasing. This year’s event has been rated as, perhaps, the most successful so far. But I can promise you that we’ve already confirmed and promised some really big changes and surprises for next year’s event to mark the 10th anniversary. We’ll clearly have to expand the exhibition space, and the date will also be postponed a bit. We’ll be publishing more detailed information soon,” revealed Jan Pokorný, exhibition director.
Several watchmaking gems made their debut over the two days of the event, sponsored by Unicredit Bank, Naturbeds, and the CarTec Group, displaying their BMW and Rolls Royce cars in front of the main entrance. These debutants included the Gold Teutonia IV MoonPhase from the Saxon family brand Mühle Glashütte, appearing for the first time in the Czech Republic, Czapek Genève presented its Place Vendôme Complicité with a pair of flywheels, and the luxury manufacturer Franck Muller, with the help of Beny, brought its Vanguard barrel-shaped watch in a carbon case with a skeletonised movement and tourbillon from Switzerland. Japanese icon G-Shock also came to celebrate its 40th birthday, presenting the sophisticated novelty of the MR-G line with the name Shougeki-Maru: Gai, whose hand-wrought case found its inspiration in the making of samurai helmets.
The unwaveringly strong interest in mechanical watches in the Czech Republic is confirmed by the growing popularity of domestic manufacturers. The popular duo Prokop & Brož were present at the SEW exhibition, where it was possible to admire a cross-section of their entire work from the last decade and, on the one hand, admire their skeletonised movements, and, on the other, various kinds of single-hand watches or timepieces with retrograde indicators. The Czech watchmaker Prim Manufacture 1949 also drew the crowds, using the exhibition this year to unveil its latest limited edition – Prim Arma. Innovations at the Robot booth similarly received considerable attention: alongside new colour variations for their existing ranges, Robot also presented their brand new Ida line, designed purely for women. A demonstration of the skeletonisation of watch components was presented by the pair of watchmakers behind the newly emerging Czech brand Tesař Tetur. Meanwhile, the independent watchmaker Ondřej Berkus became the unequivocal star of the exhibition, taking home the award for 2023’s best watch of the year. His single-hand watch, regulated by a minute tourbillon, builds on the aesthetics of the meteorite dial and received the most votes from the audience.
The beautiful spaces and concept of the SEW sales exhibition, with its customarily relaxed atmosphere, also attracted famous people and celebrities. Among them was the tremendous sporting talent Štěpán Venc, junior vice-champion of the canoe slalom world. This was the same young athlete with whom Maurice Lacroix officially began his collaboration, supporting Štěpán’s enthusiasm, diligence and determination with the ultralight Aikon watch line, which is made of the material #tide, i.e. recycled PET bottles.
The exhibition attracted some 3,000 visitors over two days, enabling brand representatives and watchmakers to shake hands with new retailers, watch and jewelry distributors, collectors, but also important personalities from the watch world. This undoubtedly includes Jaromír Ondráček, who teaches new watchmakers at the Industrial, Technical, and Automobile Secondary School in Jihlava, the watchmaker and designer Libor Hovorka, and Igor Sirota, who organised the topical lectures. The most popular was the presentation: Where do the high prices come from and is it still worth investing in watches?
As is now customary, the exhibition also had a charitable reach. SEW associated its name with the children’s charity Fond ohrožených dětí and the KlokArt programme, which has expanded to include a fifth edition of T-shirts and sweatshirts printed by illustrator Richard Svitalský. This year’s edition is a tribute to the legendary Omega Speedmaster chronographers and their journey to the Moon.