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Sunday
Nov092014

... A Fine watch is for the body and Time, my son, is for the soul.

I was invited to the Fine Watch Exhibition 2014, which was held in the Saatchi Gallery, London. Connoisseurs, members of the British intelligentsia, collectors, authors, CEOs, renowned British families attended the event which lasted for three days and no one wanted it to end. The archetypal image of a Renaissance watchmaker was reborn in our minds. The ghost of the very first master horologist was in the air and it was as if we were all breathing it together. During these three days I, once again, confirmed that no matter how often the world changes, how fast it moves, how disruptive it is, the tradition of watchmaking is so powerful that it will keep preserving its timelessness. It is beyond and independent of time.

Piaget, Mont Blanc, Rapport, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Konstantin Chaykin, Cartier were among the intricate brands that exhibited their delicate pieces of art. The visitors had the chance to see and in some cases to touch these rare objects of desire. There were several presentations revealing insiders’ secrets and inspiring speeches about the high luxury business. One of the first speakers during the first day of the exhibition was the Swiss Ambassador to London who said: “Swiss watches are great ambassadors for my country.” Dr. Clotaire Rapaille, the market researcher who unlocks the codes hidden in the cultural unconscious, said during an interview in 2007: “The Swiss like to take their time. It’s kind of vulgar to be in a rush.” I think similar to the Japanese and the Swiss, for the British high culture it is also — ‘everything has its time, no rush.’ Holistically speaking, the two macro-concepts, that were imprinted in my mind from this 3-day exhibition were ‘understatement’ and ‘highness’. Notice that the title of the exhibition is Fine Watch rather than Luxury Watch Exhibition. I always find the British culture impressive for its ability to keep the balance and maintain a strong relationhip between these two different macro-concepts that play a role of utmost importance in the luxury brand management strategies.

During networking, it was a pleasure listening to the language the collectors speak and looking at the world from their viewpoint. Ian Skellern, brand consultant and watch collector, said “we, watch collectors, are anything but logical.” Alexandre Meerson explained that “there are elements of poetry and madness in the history of horology. I mean, why would you pay ten thousand pounds for a watch that is much less accurate than a quartz?”

In another panel when asked about the new industry of smart watches all three CEOs instinctively laughed in a polite manner and Bruno Grande, managing director of Jean Richard, said “Smart watches are not that smart so they don’t create a challenge for the luxury watch industry, but we should not underestimate them.” Describing a strategic approach in the luxury business model, Nick English, co-founder of Bremont, said: “We want the complete control so we do everything in-house.”

Attending this exhibition, organized by SalonQP, was a rather memorable experience. Every nano-second, every milli-moment was immortal. The omni-presence of high alchemy that exists within the world of luxury was manifested through the rituals, traditional values and symbols for words were not enough. Words are insufficient to describe an alchemically transcendent experience. The experience can only be lived. As it is stated in the Corpus Hermeticum (in His First Book): “96: O unspeakable, unutterable, to be praised with silence!”

 

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