Thursday, February 27, 2020

The Problem with Eggs and Baskets

A little inside baseball - rumors were actually swirling on Tuesday that a decision was coming from Richememont / SIHH as to whether or not they would be moving forward and that a formal announcement would be coming that very afternoon/evening.  Now like any other consumer led business, the fans and journalists follow the machinations of the watch business with more than just a passing interest.  I suspect that several writers and outlets had already drafted their copy, simply waiting for the specific "quotable", made a quick update and hit send.  I, for one, was a wee-bit surprised that the decision took as long as it did to be aired out.  And let's keep in mind that BaselWorld still hangs in the balance.

Allow me to state something clearly - the cancellation of the "Fair Previously Known as SIHH" will not single-handedly bring down Richemont, or the other brands.  Moreover, if the worst does happen and the Geneva Auto Show and other events lead to the BaselWorld fair to reconsider?  Both the fair will survive and the industry at large.

But what what the Watches & Wonders slow Fandango with cancellation has demonstrated is that there was, essentially, no plan B.

But what it also has demonstrated is an inability, or simple unwillingness to consider hiring and working with a skilled practitioner of System D.

For those of you neither culinary or French, courtesy of the Urban Dictionary:
System D
System D is a shorthand term that refers back to the French word débrouillard, (one who is) skilled or resourceful at handling any difficulty. System D refers to a manner of responding to challenges that requires one to have the ability to think fast, to adapt, and to improvise when getting the job done.

The term gained popularity after appearing in the 2006 publication of Anthony Bourdain's The Nasty Bits. Bourdain's sous-chef likens the use of System D to being a modern-day MacGyver ... getting the job done with a mix of whatever resources are available and a great deal of personal innovation.

In The Nasty Bits, Bourdain references first coming upon the term while reading Nicolas Freeling's memoir, The Kitchen, written about Freeling's years as a Grand Hotel cook in France.

* débrouillard (2009). Webster's New World College Dictionary. Retrieved May 24th, 2009, from 
* Bourdain, Anthony (2006). The Nasty Bits. New York: Bloomsbury. 
* Nicolas Freeling (1970). The Kitchen. Hamish Hamilton, Ltd.
by Daisy Gatsby May 27, 2009

It goes without saying that you make plans and you try to stick to them.  But you also have a back up.  Many readers may not recall, but the 1986 World Cup was originally slated to take place in...
Colombia.  Colombia proved unable to pull it together in time, and the baton was passed to Mexico.  Mexico, who had hosted the event just 16 years previously.  The US made a bid, and by all accounts was ready, but got the fuzzy end of the lollipop on that one.  The World Cup is a HUGE event, and to be fair, they didn't just pick up and shift 60 days out, but what does bear considering is that they considered it not beyond the possible to make a change.

A few errors were made on the planning path of both shows:
1.  Holidays -
Ramadan and Golden Week.  
2.  Sequencing - 
The attempt to synchronize the two shows was admirable, but the SIHH's unwillingness to consider moving their show to Basel, and have it run at the same time is proof positive that hubris is a killer.

A solution -
Woefully simple:
Run Watches and Wonders and BaselWorld at the same time.  This would ensure that the US journalists who were "deemed" worthy by those arbiters of talent and actually invited to Watches & Wonders as members of the press would not have to choose which one.  Less travel expense, less expense for Richemont who would not feel the need to pay for hotel accommodations.

With SWATCH Group out, as well as some others, there is actually room for Richemont.  When you think about the fair as it is now, you do not get to walk past security and into the Tag Heuer booth, so it's not as if Richemont won't be able to control who gets in, and who gets out.

Curious to relate, several media outlets have expressed relief about the cancelation of SWATCH Group's ego trip (also known as Time to Move), as they would not have to spend that amount of time and money.  And I have already heard similar feedback regarding the cancellation of Watches & Wonders.  It is important to understand that coverage actually costs money.  For those of us in the "volunteer" media, that comes out of OUR OWN POCKET.  But if you are a business, and you are struggling to keep going with poor ad revenues, etc.?  You are probably not going to weep over not having to shell out several thousand additional CHF.

It is inevitable to potentially have all of your eggs in one basket, but as that other noted commentator on the watch industry, the Easter Bunny will tell you, you have to be nimble, quick, and have a back-up basket ; )

Stay tuned.

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