Meanwhile, Chopard reveals three new chiming watches to mark the 25th anniversary of the L.U.C line, one of which is the world’s first minute repeater with a sapphire gong. It has enlisted the help of two musical brothers — cellist Gautier and violinist Renaud Capuçon — to add emotional resonance, ultimately producing a sound that is described as “purer, longer and more harmonious”.
Downtime is limited when I travel for work, and I love nothing more than returning to old haunts. There is reassurance in familiarity, but this time there is also opportunity for adventure. I plan my final day with long-time friend Tara Rogers-Ellis over dinner at La Favola, a quaint, cosy Italian restaurant in the Old Town with a handful of tables at the top of a narrow spiral staircase. We savour starters of grilled and marinated artichokes, beef carpaccio (sans the inevitable truffle oil), ravioli with sea bass, tagliolini with cuttlefish ink and octopus ragout, and tiramisu. After a week of rich Swiss food, we love indulging in the Italian fare washed down with a superb bottle of the 2017 Marchesi Antinori Solaia Toscana IGT.
We opt for an early train to Montreux, spurred by the promise of clear skies, the prospect of exploring Chillon Castle (made famous by Lord Byron’s epic poem The Prisoner of Chillon), and the opportunity of discovering more about the whereabouts of the Montreux Jazz Festival. The journey takes just under 90 minutes from Geneva, and Chillon Castle is an easy walk from the station along the lakeside promenade, duly decorated with a profusion of colourful spring blooms.
Looking back at a week of sensory overload, especially after three years of relative isolation, one experience stands out above all others. The sound of silence. In an unforgettable meeting with maverick mountaineer and former special-forces operative Nirmal Purja (who is a Mark Maker ambassador for Montblanc), the hustle and bustle of the Palexpo convention centre dissolve into white noise. We could have sat comfortably in silence for those few precious minutes had we not had to go through the motions of a timed interview. It is a lesson in being, not doing, like a meditation I never wanted to end. •
Good to know
Visas: Travellers to Switzerland need a Schengen visa for a stay of up to 9O days. See eda.admin.ch/pretoria
Covid: Switzerland has re-opened its borders to travellers who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and/or recovered.
Debbie was a guest of the exhibiting brands at Watches & Wonders Geneva 2022. She stayed at Hotel Jade Manotel and flew to Geneva with Emirates from Cape Town via Dubai.