Over at Quill & Pad, co-founder Ian Skellern penned an open letter to Bulgari CEO Jean-Christophe Babin (above). The title of the post says it all: “I’ve Cancelled My Geneva Watch Days 2020, Now It’s Your Turn (But You Should Have Been First).” Notice the parenthesis around the accusation. There’s a reason for that. But first, here’s the letter . . .
Dear Mr. Babin,
When I first read the news last week, just days after the cancellation of Watches & Wonders and Baselworld 2020 due to the continuing spread of coronavirus, that you had organized Geneva Watch Days and it would run April 26 – 29, 2020, I thought, “great!” Plucky, upstart, “distributed” exhibition shows gloom and doom the middle finger, allowing us (journalists, photographers, collectors, aficionados, and retailers) to make use of our already booked and paid-for travel and accommodation.
And rather than a mind-and-body draining two weeks of back-to-back Watches & Wonders/Baselworld, a few days in Geneva handling fantastic watches was alluring, and I’m morally weak (one of the many reasons I’m not running a large company).
I’m slow, but it didn’t take long before my feelings about Geneva Watch Days turned about face, as it became ever more apparent to all that holding an international fair, even a small distributed fair, while the whole world was trying to minimize travel and personal contact, was wrong. See Geneva Watch Days 2020 Is On: Good News Or *Covid-19 Cough* Desperate, Short-Sighted, Money Grab?
But despite feeling that Geneva Watch Days was wrong, hope, stupidity, and self-interest prevailed enough to cause me to hold off on canceling my Airbnb in Geneva (just in case).
But the continuing spread of Covid-19 over the last few days — now Italy has shut down (and may quarantine) 16 million people in the industrial, money-earning north of the country, i.e., the bit bordering Switzerland (and not far from Geneva) — has extinguished that hope. I’ve canceled my trip to Geneva Watch Days.
I was hoping that you would cancel the event first and take the decision and uncertainty out of my hands. But you didn’t.
Now’s the (well overdue) time to say bye-bye to Geneva Watch Days 2020.
Regards, Ian Skellern
P.S. If it’s any consolation, from a business decision I think that Geneva Watch Days 2020 was probably worth the Hail Mary pass. Morally though . . .
Mr. Skellern is to be commended for reading Babin the riot act. Babin’s reply (in the comments section) shows just how right Skellern was.
I respect all opinions. You’re right that Covid19 is peaking now as we speak in Europe. It’s true to that Chinese government has tamed it in just 4 weeks. So you’re right our Geneva Watch Days could be cancelled. But they might not be either. And the concept is to flexible and adaptive that betting on optimism will always be better than on pessimism.
I’m in charge of 7000 colleagues and serve 100.000 ds of clients and my mission is to move on unless it is impossible. Today it’s not. Whether you like it or not our workshops will run tomorrow from Valenza to Roma, Firenze or Saignelegier and we’ll fight for optimism as much as operationally against Covid19 with our Spallanzani Hospital support in Roma. Yours respectfully. JC. Babin
Sure, I bet his “workshops” are as crowded as my local authorized watch dealer. Which is to say not. Anyway, that should have been that. Remember the parenthesis in the headline? They indicated a suspicious lack of resolve. Confirmed by Mr. Skellern’s reply to Mr. Babin’s comment.
Thank you for taking the time for a thoughtful comment, Mr. Babin. We are both hoping for the same result.
If Geneva Watch Week 2020 runs, I will bring you a bottle of chilled (and sterilized) champagne 🙂
Ug. The Truth About Watches told it like it is/was: Geneva Watch Days 2020 – Cynical, Stupid, Deadly and Doomed. If the mainstream horological press wants to stay relevant, they need to find their balls. And then hold them tight.