The watch industry is in crisis, of that there is no doubt, but it’s a storm of moderate proportions compared with the roaring tempest enveloping the media. And it’s not about competing local papers, or even big groups fighting over the same scraps. This time, the trouble bears the name of Google, Facebook, Instagram and Apple (yet again). They are giants, monsters, with an insatiable appetite for everything they can catch in their big data nets.
If anyone is to survive the onslaught, they’ll need to find a new model. This existential quest
is taking place in a scene of utter chaos. The lines between journalism and promotion, objectivity
and commercial favouritism, independence and conflicts of interest are blurred,
sometimes to the point of complete erasure.
Let’s look at our own domain: the watch industry and the media. We are reaching the end
of nearly two decades of incredible expansion for the watch industry, which has drawn
into its wake a growing train of hangers-on enthralled by the rich cornucopia before
them. Because, you see, the watch industry was generous, distributing its largesse far
and wide. Where relationships were close, misbegotten children were born.
Some watchmakers even became their own media. They launched into print and the
internet, and invaded social media, forums and blogs. Influencers, opinion leaders
and celebrities emerged, and watch porn colonised the screens of the connected
world with its freckles and follicles.
Faced with this invasion of their own backyard, the traditional media found themselves thrown into confusion. They cast around in vain, trying to recover their bearings. Some thought that the answer was to become merchants themselves. After all, as journalists they had access to the watchmaking temple and its high priests; they might as well set up shop and make the most of it. But the fact that “commercial services have taken over from editorial concerns, even to the point of appointing editors-in-chief”, as a former editor-inchief of 20 ans, a French women’s magazine, noted, is a worrying development. Nothing good can come of such promiscuity, for anyone concerned. Our readers are entitled to expect us to fulfil our duty of providing clarity without complacency (we’re not talking about objectivity, which is an impossibility).
That’s the minimum that politeness demands. And that is the purpose of the revisions we have undertaken for this anniversary issue, which we hope will mark the dawn of a new era. We are not burying our heads in the sand. We are all part of the same fascinating global watchmaking ecosystem. If we are to continue to inform, analyse, evaluate and share, we need you, the watchmakers. And you, the watchmakers, need us. Is this codependency? No, more like shared independence.
Source: Europa Star TIME.BUSINESS/TIME.KEEPER Dec. 2016 - Jan. 2017