Tuesday, April 4, 2023

The Power of (the lack) of the Press

As the curtain comes down on the one and a half watch fairs in Geneva, its's time to look back and take stock. For those brands that were not Rolex or Patek, the first day apparently didn't happen for you. And it didn't really get much better as the fair progressed. The big Richemont brands got some, but in all honesty not too much press coverage. 

(High) and Mighty Hodinkee covered:
Rolex - A LOT. In scrolling through their last week of coverage I ran out of fingers and had to switch to the Executive Publishers toes to try and keep count. Add in Tudor and you get a truly impressive number. Patek and Cartier also got a lot of ink. A little bit from Oris and the obligatory mentions for some other brands. 

And curious to relate? The "Dink" was not the only less than comprehensive outlet. By and large there were 3 or 4 Belles of the Ball, and the rest of the brands might as well have been showing their wares down the road at the Head...

Courtesy of Spotify

Sorry, too soon? Time to Watches crowed again about how awesome their show was, increasing a mighty 28% in terms of attendees and up to 55 brands! 5,800 people apparently made the journey to the U, which breaks down to an average of 105 (or so) visitors per brand (if you divide). Now knowing how much the organizers were charging for booth space, I would seriously question whether or not this was money well-spent. Moreover, if the press coverage of this Star-Spangled-Awesome event is anything to go by, it apparently never even happened. To be fair I am not monitoring every watch and fashion media outlet in the world, but I can say that based on the coverage of the great and the good in the Fourth and Fifth Estates, the silence has been deafening.

And here's the ironic rub - Watches and Wonders in their own Cock of the Walk fashion boasted about 5,000 or so retailers and something like 1,500 journalists. Think about that for a moment...

Some glaring realities were laid bare:
  • As snotty and exclusionary (not exclusive, there is a difference) as Watches and Wonders is with its press accreditation policy, this is the first year that there has been notable backlash not only from the shunned, but the regular attendees. C'mon Richemont, what are you really afraid of?
  • Without sufficient hotels within a reasonable commute, it is next to impossible to expect that anyone will make it to their appointments on time.
  • Without better infrastructure, it is next to impossible to expect that anyone will make it to their appointments in time. 
  • Without a wider diversity of brands, Watches and Wonders will never truly be on the level that BaselWorld was back in its best times.
  • Without an actual, functioning public transportation system, well let's just say it's not an ideal situation if you're trying to get to either fair without the benefit of having your own car.
But for those of us on the sidelines, we'll keep watching and wondering.

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