Up close with the Masters of Time and landing a big Hennessy scoop

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

Just get me through December
Promise I’ll remember
Get me through December
So I can start again
– Get me through December (sung by Alison Krauss, written by Natalie MacMaster)

And so we motor on through the closing stanza of the travel retail year. In my case motors plural, as in aircraft, the Cotai Water Jet and an early morning car ride across the Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macao Bridge, the longest bridge-tunnel system sea-crossing in the world,

It’s been a sensationally exciting few days that have encompassed DFS Group’s superbly curated and run Masters of Time at T Galleria by DFS, Macau, Shoppes at Four Seasons and the opening of Kansai International Airport’s Terminal 1 airside departures area, including the impressive new KIX Duty Free store (more of that in my next Blog).

Staying the test of time: 14 years on and the luxury watches and jewellery event has reached new levels of exclusivity and experience

These are privileged moments for me, to be invited not only to report on such landmark projects but also to benefit from the experience of those who make them happen. Turning that experience into copy while on the road is a challenge that involves many a late night into early morning stint at the keyboard in my various Interim Bureaux, my only companions pot noodle or room service and a drop or two of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, but it’s one I embrace.

It was DFS who introduced the term ‘Curated’ into the travel retail sector – it’s been picked up by others since but never reached the same level – and Masters of Time is an archetypically thrilling example of how that term can find voice.

The 14th edition of the annual event brought together the largest, most exclusive portfolio of timepieces and fine jewellery ever displayed in Macau in a single location. It features over 300 masterpieces including limited-edition items from over 50 prestigious houses, and nine new partners.

I just love this watch though its MOP879,000 (us$109,000) means I will have to stick with my current models. Here is the delightfully whimsical Automaton Joker, one of the limited 20-piece series created by Andersen Genève and Konstantin Chaykin, blending fine watchmaking traditions with technical invention.
With Pierre-Alexandre Aeschlimann of Andersen Genève, who travelled to Macau especially for Masters of Time

Just as excitingly, guests, including me, were treated to exclusive, in-person masterclasses led by Brand Ambassadors from Girard Perregaux, Bovet, Messika, Panerai, Hublot, Ulysse Nardin, Damiani, Garrard and Vianney Halter.

Horological pioneer Vianney Halter presented one of the exclusive timepieces from his collection, Deep Space Tourbillon (below) at Masters of Time. Look out for my interview with this great artisan coming soon.

I had the pleasure – perhaps pain might be more appropriate given the end result – of trying my hand, as it were, at the art of engraving, under the masterful eye of the Bovet 1822 artisan engraver Aurelie Kaufmann. Let me tell you this is a fiendishly difficult art and I suspect my handicraft will be rightly confined to the keyboard forever.

Aurelie Kaufmann shows us the tools (and the art) of the trade
And then a quick masterclass on how to do it
Art inside a timepiece
Oh dear, I don’t think Bovet 1822 will be calling for my CV just yet…
I might have flunked class but Global Sales Director Romain Milet and Aurelie Kaufmann still find (Bovet 1822) time for a photo with me
Masters of Time offered a welcome chance to catch up with (from left) DFS Executive Vice President, Global Marketing & Digital Ventures Long Chiu; The Moodie Davitt Report Founder & Chairman Martin Moodie; DFS President Hong Kong and Macau Johan Pretorius (above and below); and Sands China Limited Senior Vice President Retail Tim Jones

You can read my preliminary report online but look out for a more personalised perspective in the next edition of our China Travel Retail Report eZine, out later this month.

Now this is what I call a real scoop: It pays to hang out with the DFS boys. You get to savour Hennessy X.O ice cream, no less. Pictured right to left are Senior Director | Global Merchandising | Spirits, Wine, Tobacco, Food and Gifts Daniel Licari; me; Manager, Merchandise & Planning – Spirits, Wine & Tobacco at DFS Group Limited Fraser Wotzke and his wife Alijca
An ice cream store like no other. In fact it is the newly opened House of Hennessy boutique at T Galleria by DFS, Macau, The Shoppes at Four Seasons.
Only in Macau can you experience London, Paris and Venice in one day
I stayed at Sheraton Grand Macao inside, you guessed it, The Londoner Macao. Directions can be tricky amid these multiple interlinked properties…
But where there’s a Will there’s a way (yes, I know, this Blog goes from bard to verse)

After a brilliant Gala Event done in inimitable style, it was back to my room at the Sheraton Grand Macao for some late night writing and then up well before dawn for a car ride across the Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macao Bridge, crossing (and sometimes disappearing under) the waters of the Lingdingyang channel in the Pearl River Estuary.

This astonishing 29.6km (comprising a 22.9km sea viaduct and a 6.7km sub-sea tunnel) work almost defies belief, although alas my trip coincided with wonton soup-like smog and fog so my views of the South China Sea were limited to a few metres.

Despite the murky air you can see the bridge stretching out way, way into the distance.
And now, incredibly, we are driving under the South China Sea

Door to door, including customs clearance and immigration, took me around 80 minutes and before I knew it I was airside and preparing for my onward journey to Kansai International.

A 5am wake-up call had meant no breakfast so – travelling economy to Japan – I sought out a few options at Hong Kong International Airport. I had drained my laptop battery during the ride from Macau so sought somewhere with a charging point. Surprisingly in the vast, diverse and excellent Food Court (South) I couldn’t find one. I ended up in the SSP-run Jardin de Jade where I had no such luck either but decided to dine anyway given my rapidly approaching flight and the restaurant’s brilliant views over the airfield.

You can read my review coming soon in our new FAB-ometer column but in the meantime a big shout-out to Vivian Kwok and Isaac who served me with genuine friendliness and much grace. The piping hot Shrimp Wonton in Chicken soup, albeit slightly on the bland side, and the delicious pan-fried dumplings with pork (3 pieces), did the trick in restoring my energy levels. Next stop (and next Blog) Kansai. Roll on December.

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