Social Media Nugget #6
As the Swiss watch industry is collectively scratching it’s head about how to sell any more new watches and the wolves of the global wall-streets are hangin on to cash as the number one asset, vintage watches are beeing auctioned for prices unheard of. When steel-cased Rolexes that cost under 1000$ new, sell for 700.000$ , I pay attention.
Are watches a better investment than stocks?
Fonzie was the epitome of cool. Now, phones are like Fonzie’s comb. They should not come out of your pocket in public places…well, maybe on the train. A few things are more annoying and uncool than a person who in the company of real people, friends, colleagues or clients can not keep his attention away from the phone. Very bad.
Think Paul Newman or Steve McQueen. Watches are the finest, classiest pieces of jewelry a man can wear. Like a pair of nice shoes or a crisp, well tailored shirt, you feel a little bit special when you put them on. It’s like opening the garage door to the sight of that beautiful bike or car. You don’t even have to start them up to feel good. Newman and McQueen certainly knew that feeling. A watch can even tell you the time, maybe the date and some other interesting stuff, in the wink of an eye, without the hassle of grabbing your phone.
An absolute winner is an automatic watch that whirs it’s rotor at every move of your wrist. (Does normal people listen to their watch?) The sweetest sounding watch I ever had was a Nivada chrono with a Lemania mouvement. I got it from one of my father’s clients in his shop in Helsinki and restored it during my time in the watchmaking school. I got some shit from my fellow students (mainly Simo of “Rajamäen Kellotehdas” fame) because of it’s wonky 70’s design and finally sold it to Stephen Forsey. The thing I miss the most about that watch is, that sweet sounding rotor winding up the mainspring.
Smartphones and connected watches are absolutely mind-blowingly useful. You get the app for navigating your yacht around the world, measuring your pulse, finding your Uber man and what not.
I just don’t think that one more piece of disposable electronic crap is cool.
Next time at the dinner table, listen to what your friends have to say, roll up your sleeve to show them your watch and feel like a good man.
The late Rolf W. Schnyder made Christophe Claret to what the company was at it’s greatest. And, CC was just a bi-product in RWS’s process of growing Ulysse Nardin from two employees to three hundred. The RWS era Ulysse Nardin produced watches that were interesting enough to do their own publicity. UN had a “story” twenty years before it got hip and no need for sponsoring.
At the helm of Girard Perregaux was another passionate and visionary man, Luigi Macaluso. In his case, though, it was rather a steering wheel. Late Mr. Macaluso was a proper petrolhead. The tourbillon with the three golden bridges, brought down to wrist watch size, is a masterpiece.
UN and GP were prototypes of a “small giant” company. Somehow these two patrons managed to maintain the feeling of a family even in factories that employed hundreds. They lined Christophe Claret’s pockets with money… and their own companies promptly lost their mojo once they had lost their inimitable bosses.
Somebody in Kering needs to visit the Basel faire, this week, and get a close look at the CC stand. Never mind the weird and frankly rather silly CC complications of late, the watchmaking is there and the finishing is nice and traditional. Kering needs to flex their muscle one more time and finish what they started in UN and GP. Like Swatch Group with Breguet, Richemont with Roger Dubuis, Kering needs to buy Christophe Claret and bring their best watchmaking under one roof in Le Locle. Find the mojo, make some nice watches, again, and maybe sell a few to third parties… like Bovet and Jaquet Droz. If nothing else, the people who already bought GP and UN watches for millions, with Christophe Claret mouvements in them, deserve to be safe in the knowledge that there will be spare parts in stock to service their watches for years to come.
My client (a luxury-watch brand in the +80K $ price range) had struggled for two years with a watch that just did not work. The swanky “we know everything” producer of the mouvement for this watch (a subcontractor to several famous high-end brands) had us endure hours of useless meetings. A bunch of the better payed elements of sayed factory would be present. Engineers, designers, boss of this, boss of that… no watchmakers. Drawings were shown, theories made. Everybody were blamed. Casemakers, dialmakers… none of it made sense to the only watchmaker present, me. Casings and dials were remade for eye-watering amounts of money. The solution to the problem was one tiny spring that was too strong and blocked the calendar mechanism of the watch. A fact I pointed out at our first meeting and was promptly laughed off. A proper watchmaker would have found the problem (and did) in one day for a cost of 500$ + a one-hour meeting with a prototypist.
It puzzles me that 4 times out of 5, when I try to call somebody in a Swiss watch factory, the person is in a meeting, going to a meeting or has his day off. My wild guess is, this concerns about 10% of the employees in any Swiss watch factory in the luxury segment.
Well, I finally found the answer to this riddle, in this fine article by Anne Fisher / Fortune magazine:
How to make sure nothing gets done at work
Here are the eight tactics the OSS (baby CIA) recommended for tripping up an Axis agency from the inside:
1- “Insist on doing everything through channels. Never permit short-cuts to be taken to expedite decisions.”
2- “Make speeches. Talk as frequently as possible and at great length. Illustrate your ‘points’ by long anecdotes and accounts of personal experiences.”
3- “When possible, refer all matters to committees, for ‘further study and consideration.’ Attempt to make the committees as large as possible — never less than five.”
4- “Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible.”
5- “Haggle over precise wordings of communications, minutes, and resolutions.”
6- “Refer back to a matter decided upon at the last meeting and attempt to re-open the question of the advisability of that decision.”
7- “Advocate ‘caution.’ Be ‘reasonable’ and urge your fellow conferees to be ‘reasonable’ and avoid haste which might result in embarrassments or difficulties later on.”
8- “Be worried about the propriety of any decision. Raise the question of whether [it] lies within the jurisdiction of the group or whether it might conflict with the policy of some higher echelon.”