Coronageddon claimed Watches and Wonders and Baselworld. Both held off on deep-sixing their events as long as they could. Shortly after they pulled the plug – and not-so-coincidentally – the Swiss government banned all large-scale public gatherings. So that’s that. And then a conglomerate of Swiss watchmakers decided to create a new event with limited-size groups: Geneva Watch Days. Here’s part of their press release . . .
The initiative has been unveiled Monday evening by Jean-Christophe Babin, CEO of Bvlgari, during the RTS (Swiss National Television) TTC broadcast.
“Despite the cancellation of the two major Watch Fairs, it will allow retailers and media, primarily from Europe but not only, to discover, comment and order the novelties of the founding Brands, namely Breitling, Bvlgari, Gerald Genta, Girard-Perregaux, MB&F, Ulysse Nardin, De Bethune and Urwerk” commented Jean-Christophe Babin.
This initiative will allow retailers and media to meet with these Swiss Watch Brands in a few days in the capital of Swiss Watchmaking rather than attending many roadshows in different European cities currently under organization after the Watches & Wonders and Baselworld cancellations, thus saving a lot of time.
Saving time? Are they f*cking kidding? What about saving life?
Geneva Watch Days 2020 would have retailers, distributors and customers flying in from all parts of the world, entering a country with 37 confirmed cases of coronavirus (as of today). While they wouldn’t be gathering in large groups, it only takes ONE afflicted person to infect dozens maybe even hundreds or thousands of others. A not-insignificant percentage of them fatally.
Except it won’t happen. No one in their right mind will attend this cynical attempt to exploit industry types who’ve already booked flights and hotels to Switzerland for Watches and Wonders or Baselworld. If nothing else, participants risk their home country’s refusal to allow them to return and/or two-weeks’ quarantine in a government facility.
The Geneva Watch Days event does not intend to substitute on the long term the historical Geneva Watches & Wonders and Baselworld Fairs but presents an efficient alternative at smaller scale, given the 2020 changing environment. It ensures visibility for the funding Brands 2020 novelties and fights against the slow-down and gloominess prevailing in the watch industry in the recent years, reinforced since February by the Covid-19 pandemic.
So that’s alright then! And if you find that hard to swallow, there’s this:
The State of Geneva, which is following the health situation as closely as possible, has given its full support to this initiative.
The horological press have reported the new event with all the timidity you’d expect from “journalists” who kowtow to the industry that plies them with junkets, freebies and access to new product. HoDinkee, as always, defines the obsequiousness. Our friends at Monochrome go even further, pledging their participation.
Only Quill & Pad’s Ian Skellern dares call out Mr. Babin – and then hits readers with this: “I’m still undecided enough not to have cancelled my Geneva Airbnb for late April. The pull of attending is strong, and I have sunk costs myself. And I’m in relatively good health and living in a country – Switzerland/France (I’m transitioning) – with an excellent health care system.”
Bulgari and its toadies do themselves no favors with this doomed enterprise. Let me say it plain: Geneva Watch Days 2020 is cynical, stupid, deadly and doomed. Not that I really need to point this out.
Watch industry types outside of Switzerland – especially those from Asia (where the Swiss industry sent 50 percent of their exports) – are avoiding international travel like the plague. Literally. They’ll stay away in droves. If Geneva Watch Days 2020 goes ahead, it will be sparsely attended, at best. That Mr. Babin thinks otherwise is evidence of both greed and self-delusion.
I love Bulgari watches. Same goes for many of the products from the other brands joining hands (at a time when no one should be joining hands) for Geneva Watch Days 2020. The companies’ sense of social responsibility, not at all.