Even a serious horolophile like me tires of looking at watches at some point. So thankfully, the SIHH is held in elegant Geneva, where I managed to have a mighty good time even when I wasn't at the fair.
For dining, I recommend Roberto, a local landmark that offers Italian classics done exceptionally well, in a setting that seems untouched since the early 1960s. The celebrated steakhouse L'Entrecôte draws carnivorous worshipers from all over the world. And at Lion d'Or, the traditional exterior belies a modern dining room and a menu that is as interesting as it is satisfying; do not leave without savoring the cheeseboard and the view over Lake Geneva.
There is plenty of excellent shopping in Geneva, but cigar aficionados won't want to miss Davidoff, which sells impeccably maintained Havanas and Dominicans, as well as many accessories. The service is faultless, and even buying a single cigar is a retail experience to remember.
The Patek Philippe Museum is worth a visit for its beautifully displayed collection of timepieces, tracing man's attempts to ensnare the passing hours in small mechanical objects.
But one must always leave time for a good night's rest. Many of Geneva's most famous hotels have been refurbished in recent years, robbing them of some of their charm. The best of the revamps is the Hotel des Bergues, now a Four Seasons. For true character, try La Cigogne, where Harold Robbins– era chic clashes wonderfully with Napoleon III style. Otherwise La Réserve, just outside town, offers a resort feel within easy reach of the city center.