EPHJ is the world’s largest exhibition of precision technology and supplies for the watch industry, and takes place this year from September 15 to 18 at the Palexpo in Geneva.
The timing had been in doubt, and remains under review in case official advice on large gatherings is changed by Swiss authorities, but for now it proceeds with around half of the exhibitors from last year already re-booked to appear and many more expected to take part.
EPHJ attracts more than just suppliers to the watch industry, it also has exhibitors making precision instruments for advanced industries including healthcare, dentistry and aeronautics.
Often businesses in these highly technical fields share expertise between them. This cross-fertilisation has led to some of the greatest advances in research and development for watchmaking, according to the show’s director Alexandre Catton.
The winner of last year’s innovation award at the show was a company with technology for watchmakers, medics and opticians.
If you want to make a watch, EPHJ exhibitors will provide everything you need from cases, movements and straps to sapphire crystal glass, mainplates and springs.
If you want to make your own components, the CNC machines, 3D printers and tools you need are all on show as well.
It is an important meeting point for the industry where CEOs and watchmakers of watch brands mix with engineers and inventors. This makes it a vital event where brand new ideas that shape the future of watchmaking are discussed, Mr Catton says. “We strongly believe we are part of a new beginning for the industry,” he adds.
Innovation has not stopped during the Coronavirus pandemic. If anything, it has accelerated as suppliers focused on R&D rather than fulfilling orders while their factories have been closed.
This leads Mr Catton to believe that 2020 could be a year when we see even more futuristic ideas coming to market.
The pandemic has also shown the fragility of global supply chains from China to the United States and led to an uptick in re-shoring of manufacturing of components as close as possible to the CHF 21 billion Swiss watch industry. “Watchmakers are questioning whether to source from cheaper countries that are less secure and do more damage to the environment than sourcing from your home country,” Mr Catton suggests.