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Crisis, icons and the carpet

Crisis, icons and the carpet

By: Jean-Philippe Arm

What’s the watch industry talking about these days ? Apart from the weather, one subject that is inevitably raised is the current crisis. Ask, “How’s business ?” and watch the smiles fade. “It’s OK with us, but things are difficult,” they’ll admit. “To be honest, it’s very complicated…” followed by the theories and analyses that you’ve heard a hundred times and probably agree with.

There’s nothing new under the sun, only the feeling that you’ve heard it, seen it or read it before, and, if we may gaze at our own navel, written it before. An editorial once published in this magazine could be published here today, word for word. It reported the unanimous view that 2016 would be a year of great danger. That prediction is now equally valid for 2017. An amusing déjà vu if it weren’t so depressing.

What else ? Today’s overused word – it comes up daily in press releases and the other epic tales concocted by the marketers as they launch a new version inspired by a bygone classic. Yes, it’s “iconic”. Any old model can receive the honour, as if the 20th century produced nothing but icons. There are but a handful of models that have caught the imagination and achieved enough popularity to remain in the collective memory and thus merit such a distinction. One could take a more generous view and include a dozen or a score in the hall of fame, but for the rest, there’s no point in vaunting what you don’t have instead of promoting your real values. Watchmaking today is undeniably creative, and therefore often ridiculous and pretentious. Such false claims are also counter-productive, because the annoyed recipient will naturally wish to send them them towards another icon in the corner of his screen : the trash.

Fortunately there are lighter moments occasioned by electronic communications. A momentary distraction might send your private or professional emails to anybody. Even though couples are split and state secrets leaked, the consequences are not always disastrous. I was recently the unintended recipient of detailed plans for a stand in a forthcoming watch show, with a list of pointed questions. I could only politely reply that the colour of the carpet was OK by me.

Let’s hope there’s something to smile about in 2017.