Countdown or the flora and fauna of the watch world

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November 2010

Who said that biodiversity was in danger? This is undoubtedly true when it comes to nature (which people generally say “surrounds” us as if we did not belong to it, while in fact we are part of it and are undeniably the ultimate predators of the natural world) but it is definitely not the case when it comes to the flora and fauna of the watch world.
Today, these timely species are proliferating like never before. They are just one example that we are indeed traversing a rather strange period. One would have thought, if only for an instant, after the seismic activity brought about by the greedy sorcerers’ apprentices at Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, and UBS, among others, that the world would return to a little more common sense and restraint. But no! Quite the contrary. Things are continuing just like before and it is not the very weak governmental regulations mouthed here or there that are going change anything.

Countdown or the flora and fauna of the watch world

The strongest have come out of the crisis even stronger, although there are less of them. It is the ‘small’, in many more numbers, that received the brunt of the financial storm. The same can be said of the world of watches. The strong watch groups have weathered the storm and have become even stronger—take a quick look at the triumphant profit announcements from the Swatch Group, LVMH, and Richemont—while at their feet swarm those who are scrambling desperately to escape the prevailing fierce winds of Darwinism. And to succeed, they are leaving no stone unturned. Everything is at their disposal.
Do you want large ostentatious timepieces? Or miniscule machines for the wrist? Lots of sparkling stones? Three black hands on a white dial? Colour or no colour? Special materials developed in the labs at NASA? Feathers? Mother-of-pearl? Or do you want to impress the world with a totally unwearable object but one that is extremely vis-ible? Do you want a sculpture for your wrist? Or do you prefer a miniature painting? Would you like to read the time on a spiral of diodes or do you need a very, very, large and irreparable complication? Are you concerned with spending the most money possible? Or do you like counterfeit pieces? Or copies? To sum it up, whatever animal interests you, you will certainly find a specimen somewhere in the jungle of watchmaking.
If, at one time—a time before the crisis—we might have thought that all this activity was proof of a dynamic and healthy industry, today we have the impression that this carnival seems more like a dance at the edge of a precipice, a headlong flight into the abyss. But when they momentarily forget their corporate doubletalk and let slip their most personal feelings, even the highest ranking official in the publicly-traded watch companies recognizes that “today’s times are strange”. Everyone, or nearly everyone, has the feeling “that we are heading straight into the wall” but nothing is done. We march on, advancing blindly. We are using everything we can find, we fire in all directions, but we have the impression that we are firing into a void. No one knows really if we are climbing up the ‘V’ slope or if it is a ‘W’ that awaits us around the bend. The planet is growing weary but the watch industry is darting ahead—but until when? Today’s times seem to be in a countdown mode that whirls uncontrollably around in the void.

Photo: A few examples of the watches from the ‘Steampunk’ watchmaker, Haruo Suekichi.

Source: Europa Star October - November 2010 Magazine Issue