On the second day of the SIHH, thinking about all the watches that had passed through my hands that day, I noted that the most affordable among them was selling for €40,000, or the price of a nice car such as a German saloon, for example. As for the most expensive, it is true that it was totally covered in diamonds, but I was not able to learn its exact price. When I asked the question, I was told in a delightful tone that it had a “prestigious price tag” (the equivalent, I imagined, of a beautiful home with a garden and swimming pool, complete with a sports car in the garage).
And, that day, I also could not help but think of the decadence of the Roman empire and of the follies of Heliogabalus, driving his golden chariot drawn by four white horses through the streets of Rome sprinkled with gold dust.
We all know the famous legend of King Midas who asked the god Dionysos to grant his wish of changing everything he touched into gold. The king’s good fortune turned to disaster, however, as all his food changed to gold at his touch and the poor man would soon die of hunger. Begging the god to remove this wish, he was sent to wash his hands in the river Pactolus (which ever since, as we know, abounds with flakes of gold).
Is the Midas touch now affecting Haute Horlogerie? Could it end up suffocating under its own weight in gold? We can rightly ask this question, just as we can justifiably wonder if we are not again witnessing the birth of a new bubble…
Yet, we might also say that it is, for the most part, merely a media effect. To the more than 1200 accredited journalists present at the SIHH, it is normal that the brands would want to show off the cream of their crop. Diamond-covered watches, mechanical follies and exercises in style followed one after the other before our amazed eyes. At the end of the day, however, is this what really counts? These timepieces, with all their excesses, are at the top of the ladder and are covered and discussed ad infinitum. They swarm across the great virtual web where they create the buzz, but is this really where the business is? Don’t we find the bread and butter of the industry elsewhere? Rather than only concentrated in the hands of Midas, isn’t it to be found in a thousand more modest slivers in the waters of the Pactolus?
Whatever the case, we have borrowed several treasures from Midas while also plucking a few more modest nuggets from the river, all of which we present to you on the pages of our February/March issue:
- Strategic métiers d’art
- High-tech materials and movements
- The year of butterflies and eagles
- Surrounding the SIHH: Space stations and satellites
- A (show) week in the life of a retailer
Source: Europa Star February - March 2013 Magazine Issue