We chat to Paxton Wong, the man behind Watchfest, Australia’s first watch convention We chat to Paxton Wong, the man behind Watchfest, Australia’s first watch convention

We chat to Paxton Wong, the man behind Watchfest, Australia’s first watch convention

Felix Scholz

It’s somewhat paradoxical, but the explosion of interest in fine timepieces, fuelled by the internet and social media, has also resulted in the increased popularity of offline meetings. And they’ve always been there — before Instagram and Facebook were the prime drivers of the ‘watchfam’, it was the various watch forums, like Timezone and Purists, that resulted in that weird ritual of online-friends-but-offline-strangers meeting in public, and piling lots of watches out onto tables, much to the bemusement of strangers.

Laventure is showing at Watchfest.

More recently still, this get together culture has evolved again, thanks to events such as Fratello Watches Speedy Tuesday world tour and Worn & Wound’s Windup Watch Fair. These events bring together more fans, brands and other players in the space than is practical otherwise. To date, though, there’s not been a lot happening on this front in Australia, something that Paxton Wong is hoping to change with Watchfest, a collector event taking place in Sydney on the 6th and 7th of September. So, we spent a few minutes chatting to Mr Wong to find out more.

Oris is showing too.

What’s the idea behind Watchfest? “I wanted to bring the collectors together. I wanted to bring the collectors to influence the new people. And I also wanted to bring a younger crowd in. And that’s why I have a couple of pop culture groups in the mix. Well, perhaps younger isn’t the right word — maybe newer to the hobby. I think we’ve got to accommodate a range of levels — not everyone wants, or can afford a $10,000 watch right off the bat, but that’s not a reason to be put off. It doesn’t matter if it’s $200, or $2000 or a Richard Mille — any watch is a good watch.”

And why now? “Well, I think Australia was ready for something like this. We don’t have an event where we bring together all the watch fanatics, and new people that want to come into the hobby of watch collecting. I was saying to myself at one time, the watch market in Australia has changed as well. And they don’t have a long history of collecting watches, but in recent years the sophistication has increased — there’s more of an understanding around high-end watches, the experiences they offer and the space in general.”

Omega are hosting the opening night of Watchfest.

And what can people expect? “It’s a celebration. That’s what it is. We’ve tried to get a broad range of people present. Brands like Omega, Longines and Oris, as well as more boutique brands, such as Laventure, and local brand Bausele. We’ve got collector connect groups — so whether you’re into vintage, or independents, or Speedies or whatever, there’s something for you. We’ve got a range of retailers — including a Time+Tide pop-up shop!”

To find out more about Watchfest, or to buy a ticket, visit their site.