WristWatch Magazine - Page 124

NEWS A NEW SHOW IN LATIN AMERICA The South American watch industry has enjoyed rapid growth in recent years, enough to warrant, in the opinion of many, a trade show of its own. While the JCK and Couture shows have long drawn retailers from both North and South America, for many years no specific watch show existed specifically to serve the Latin American watch market. For the past three years, Bogota, Colombia, has hosted such a gathering in its spacious Confreria Convention Center. WatchBo, as the show is known, has grown apace with the industry it serves, starting with just over 50 participating brands in 2013 and reaching a figure greater than 90 in 2015. Many of the brands that have committed to Watchbo are themselves international, using the fair as a vehicle to break into the South American marketplace. In addition to the many well-known Swiss brands, this also includes marques from Austria, Japan, and the United States, making WatchBo the largest watch fair in Latin America. WatchBo invited WristWatch to Bogota in early October to gain insight into this rapidly growing gathering of watchmakers, which has become an essential stop for many of South America’s leading watch retailers. When surveying the landscape of the show, we were struck not only by the rather obvious enthusiasm its presenters and attendees, but also by how different the watch distribution landscape is in South America than it is in the United States or Europe. The older-style network of independent watch distributors handling major brands still remains more or less intact in Colombia, whereas in the United States most of the top performing brands have established subsidiary offices in New York. This leads interesting arrangements in which one distributor may handle multiple brands from competing groups. For example, the same entity handles the wholesale distribution of Movado, Breitling and Ulysse Nardin in Colombia. All of these companies were present at WatchBo. The participating companies at this year’s WatchBo ranged from the popular and accessible (Hummer Watch, Citizen and Invicta, to name a few) to high luxury. At the very high-end, the amicable Franc Vila was presenting for the second time at WatchBo. “We hope that in five years this will be the meeting point for all of the brands to do business in Latin America, from Mexico to Argentina,” says Santiago Velilla Mejia, the General Director of the show. 122 WRISTWATCH | 2016