Friday, February 28, 2020

Just Remember What Ole' Jack Burton Said At A Time Like That

And then there were none.  To quote that other great commentator on the watch business, Jack Burton (as played by Kurt Russell) -
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"I'm a reasonable guy, I've just experienced some very unreasonable things."

BaselWorld has gone the way of Watches and Wonders and Time to Move.  Regardless of how artfully the language of force majeure might be utilized, the show has in effect, been cancelled for 2020.
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"I'm gonna tell you about an accident, and I don't wanna hear 'act of God"'

But, that is essentially all that can be said.  BaselWorld, more than any of the other fairs had the most to lose in not moving forward this year.

I personally always liked going to the fair.  Even when times were flush, and some of the brands treated every "B-List" journalist like shit, it was still exciting and fun.  And in fairness to the organizers, this edition of BaselWorld has experienced the Lallapalooza of bad luck.  First with scheduling, then with several brands bailing out owing to the state of the watch business, and now Watch Ville has its very own version of Contagion -
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And the question is, what watch brand is the Gwyneth Paltrow character in this version?  RJ folded their hand and retired from the field yesterday, but their fate had been sealed probably 18 months ago.  Sooner or later, the plug gets pulled.  And investors and bankers are not going to have the same sentimentality as your family, who apparently will forgive you even if you take a later flight from O'Hare to Minneapolis on your return from Hong Kong so you can "sex it" with an old flame... but I digress.

Personally?  I'm a wee bit disappointed,  I was looking forward to flipping the NOMOS booth the bird every time I passed by, now that will have to wait for 2021.  Well, something to look forward to I guess.  

I was, sincerely looking forward to what Tudor might have this year, as last year was a bit of a squib.  But most of all?  I was looking forward to the Watch Lounge (the reincarnation of The HYPE), but again, tomorrow (or in this case, 2021) is another day.

So then, what is next?  Curious to relate, I think in many ways this perfect storm maybe came at just the right time.  The herd needs to be culled.  The continuing Big Trouble in Big China is bearing that out.  In Hong Kong, there are rumors of a major group offering retail stores 75% off of their products in the hope that they will buy.  And this was BEFORE COVID-19.  Long story short?  Even the slipperiest weasels who scurry around the grey market can't keep up and flush the product fast enough.  

As odd as this will sound at a time like this, I think the fairs are in a perfect position to try and put together a really good show for next year. And maybe, just maybe the egos of Richemont will see the logistical logic of joining forces with BaselWorld. And maybe, just maybe Hayek the Younger will come back... 

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Okay, maybe not. But the only way out of winter is through it, so maybe a year without watch shows will remind us of everything we used to love about them.  And the experience will certainly (we can hope) help the brands and the fairs see each others' point of view a wee bit better, be a bit more humble, and realize that they not only need each other, but they need the media, and that increasingly elusive unicorn, the customer.

Sometimes you gotta pay your dues, and for the citizens of Watch Ville, this is one of those times.  So watch fairs, have you paid your dues?
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