Las Vegas/IGOTT2 a watch enthusiasts mecca

Well, well, what a pleasant surprise I had, in possibly my least favourite city I've visited in the US to date, meeting many new faces in the crazed collector watch world that is IGOTT2. Hosted by ThePuristsPro and sponsored by a couple of the big brands, I was primarily there to hang with many of my friends in the Independent Watchmaking world, namely Peter Speake-Marin, Bart Grönefeld, Kari Voutilainen, Max Busser and Paul Gerber. I met another new to me, horological wizard in Ludovic Ballouard, the creator of the Upside down watch. A mechanical marvel, he honed his skills at F.P. Journe while working on his sonnerie chiming watch.

Eagerly awaiting the opening morning's first lecture:

Upon wandering into the outer hallway, who should I bump into??? None other than the humble Kari Voutilainen, who was happy to show off his wrist wear, a sublime WG dark navy blue guilloche dial Vingt-8, with one of my favourite style of finishes, a rare monochromatic Geneva striped affair. Possibly the feature that tied it all in for me, was the presence of those lovely applied roman numerals!

And the other side to compare the calibers:

and the part everyone wants to see:

An eager aficionado inspecting the piece...

and having a chat with it's creator, Kari Voutilainen, "So what can we do to make me a special piece..."

Once we entered the hallowed halls of Igott2, we were subjected to lectures by Bulgari, AP and finally DeWitt. I have to say I was most impressed by AP, concerning their historical position in the Swiss watchmaking circles and their continued independence to this day, still being owned by family members from both the Audemars and the Piguet families. Quite a feat in today's homogenised Swiss & German fine watch world!

The first evening's soiree was the gala dinner with many fellows donning black tie to dress to the nines and the ladies in matching gowns. I spied a lovely pair of Art Deco platinum diamond & pearl earrings on the lobes of a lady, quite elegant! Lotus flower designs are classic Deco style. So it wasn't all watches that got my attention. Of course the obligatory late night beer with the watchmakers, after dinner didn't help the following mornings activities. Passing on the go-karting, I had some precious R&R for an hour & half, followed by a Yoga class, which renewed my energy levels for the Chopard lecture in the afternoon. I have to say I was most impressed by what they are doing, and I received a fantastic education about the LUC line by Patrick Wherli of Chopard, otherwise known as "Mr. LUC"!!! A passionate and extremely knowledgeable fellow, who restored my faith in a big brand. I suspect the fact that Chopard is again independently owned by a family has something to do with my renewed admiration. At the helm is Mr. Scheufele, a man of apparent impeccable taste, it takes one to know one, Ha! Actually, the thing that struck me most was finding out that he is an owner of a Dufour Simplicity! I suspect he is one of a very few industry captains that truly enjoys the art & craft of Philippe's world!

I was again mesmerized by Max's latest machine, the HM4 Thunderbolt, which I was able to spend a little time with thanks to SteveH. Here it is in all it's glory, my very favorite Horological Machine so far.

On the wrist:

Here is a close up showing the brushed/polished titanium & single piece sapphire crystal body, quite an amazing feat:

The third day was Independents Day, and we were treated to about half an hour by each of the attending watchmakers, who shared a variety of stories about themselves and why they are who they are today. Interesting to find out more of the background, which in many ways also determines why they do what they do today. Here is Peter talking about his first watch designed and made by his hands:

And Bart Grönefeld at the podium being introduced by MTF, our MC for the event:

One of the aspects I very much enjoyed about this gathering was seeing many old friends and finding out what was on their wrists...

This is a lovely platinum KV Observatoire with an anthracite guilloche dial and applied romans that I thought was rather lovely. Pictured here with the WG Vingt-8 that Kari was wearing.

And the other side to compare the calibers:

Another pair of watches:

Possibly the greatest experience I had, and for those of you who have known me for a while now will understand why, the last night's dinner event demonstrated my original hunch about Independent Watchmaking and Peter in particular back in 2003, was correct. Peter Speake-Marin was then and is still creating highly compelling works of micro mechanical art for the wrist. Why do I know that? Well seeing 12 of his pieces laid out on the table for a table shot amongst a huge number of other watches, some very fine and rare, showed me he is finally getting the recognition I think he deserves in the collector circles. Peter's work was represented in a greater number than any others. I know we were missing a steel Serpent Calendar too, as that was on a lovely ladies wrist during the event!

This is a terrible image, taken on my iphone, in appalling lighting conditions, but I think it worth showing:

To end off without saying thank you to the organisers, the team of the PuristsPro, I would be remiss. So a huge thank you for organizing a superb event that I think everyone who attended very much enjoyed the comraderie and shared enthusiasm & passion for the art of mechanical watchmaking.