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Prague Fair to Focus on Microbrand Watches

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As the Christmas markets in central Prague come alive with shoppers, the ballroom at a historic hotel there is to be the venue for a new event showcasing watch microbrands, businesses defined by their small-scale production.

The Micro Praha Festival is scheduled for Dec. 2-3 in the Ballroom Franz Josef of the Hotel Kings Court, which occupies a Neo-Renaissance building in the Czech capital that stands on the site of a 14th-century palace commissioned by King Wenceslas.

Along with drawing watch enthusiasts from around the country and throughout Central Europe, the event hopes to attract international visitors. Tourism officials say about a million of them are expected to shop the Christmas markets during the season.

Festivalgoers will be able to try on and buy watches as well as talk with the people who designed and built them, according to Ondrej Vislocky, who organized the event along with Bhanu Chopra, editor in chief of the horological publication Revolution USA and a former senior editor of the online forum WatchUSeek.

“With the ever-escalating prices of big watch brands, people are realizing the outstanding quality and value provided by the micro brand,” Mr. Vislocky wrote in an email. “What is clearly missing is the opportunity to experience the microbrand watches in person.”

Entrance to the event will be free and reservations are not required, although anyone who registers in advance on the festival website, micropraha.com, will have a chance to win one of five watches.

The Automatic Chronometer COSC 300M from Formex Watches of Switzerland, an updated version of the brand’s Reef dive watch series.

Thirty-four brands have agreed to participate. Most are from Europe, including the German label Kieser Design, Gavox Watches from Belgium and Nordic Marine Instruments of Denmark, but Havaan Tuvali from Taiwan and Dumoreau, based in California, also plan to appear.

“There were no special requirements, as there is no strict definition of a microbrand,” wrote Mr. Vislocky, a watch enthusiast who has worked as a watch photographer. “It could be a single watchmaker, a mom and pop atelier or a small company selling watches priced under 5,000 euros. We wanted a diverse group of brands from around the world.”

Formex Watches of Switzerland, for example, said it intended to present an updated version of the brand’s Reef dive watch series, which allows straps or bracelets, clasps and bezels to be changed without tools.

Having seen the interest in its products during a visit last year with the RedBar chapter of watch collectors in Prague, Formex readily accepted the organizer’s invitation, the brand’s head of marketing, Markus Wälchli, wrote in an email.

“As manufacturers, it’s easy to become insulated within our own perspectives,” he wrote, “but connecting with individuals who derive genuine enjoyment from owning and wearing our timepieces can be an invigorating experience.”

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