June 2014

Now be honest, how often have you heard me moan?
Once, maybe twice, perhaps never? I’m not a natural moaner, I have to work at it, slowly develop some ire.
I’ll give you an example. One summer I was returning home in a convertible with the top down with two of my Europa Star colleagues, no need to embarrass them, let’s simply call them Casey and Keith. Casey’s wife Véronique was also there. Casey was driving and he stopped to let me out. I got out of the car and leaned over to give the usual adieu peck on the cheek to Véronique who was sitting in the back of the car when Casey started to drive off.
The problem was that to lean over to plant the peck my foot was in front of the back wheel, so when he began to drive off it ran across my foot. I let out the appropriate shriek and Casey slammed the brake on and backed up – in itself a rapid reaction, but it ran back on my foot and stopped there. Keith explained the problem to Casey whilst the tears were running down my cheeks and he then drove on a few inches to liberate me.
I didn’t say too much, but Casey, bless him, said, “Well, you shouldn’t have had your foot under the wheel.” I could have said all sorts of things, but I didn’t – although I did consider kicking the hell out of the car’s side panelling. That’s what I mean about not being a natural moaner.

So, it is with some regret that I’m going to have a moan now – not for me, but on my behalf of a friend, Jane, whose husband had purchased a second-hand Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso for her. Originally sold by the reputable Mappin & Webb in Guernsey on September 21, 2002, it was purchased by him at the beginning of 2013 from another company. The paperwork indicated it was last serviced in Switzerland on April 24, 2006.

A selfie of the Culprit & the Jaeger-LeCoultre Manufacture
A selfie of the Culprit & the Jaeger-LeCoultre Manufacture

Jane excitedly put the watch on but it immediately began to lose time, so she took it into the Mappin & Webb shop in Guernsey, where she happens to live, and asked them to have it serviced. The date was March 23, 2013. Three months later, Jaeger-LeCoultre sent a quote stating that the servicing cost would be £525 and that the watch would be returned in June if the cost was approved. It was. The summer came and went, but no watch. Mappin & Webb telephoned to find out the score. They were informed that the watch had yet to be serviced and the delay was because there was a shortage of watchmakers in Switzerland! It finally arrived back on December 3, 2013.
It immediately began to lose time again. At first a couple of minutes a day, then several minutes a day – enough for her to return it to Mappin & Webb. Someone suggested that it may be because she was putting it on her bedside table alongside her iPhone, but Mappin & Webb tested it for 48 hours and then sent it back to Switzerland on February 2, 2014. It reappeared on Friday, May 23, 2014 and now functions normally.

The watch took 16 months to service. Even with the best will in the world, that is totally unacceptable for a company that prides itself on their prowess as watchmakers. I have always underlined the importance of servicing watches – as I’ve said before, a watch has more moving parts than a car and is expected to function 24 hours a day, 365 days a year so it should be treated with care and serviced regularly just as you would your favourite car. But 16 months?
On behalf of my friend in Guernsey, I’m moaning, can you hear me Jaeger-LeCoultre? You have wonderful timepieces, I own one myself, but it seems to me that you are too focused on selling more and more watches without consideration for your customers - especially your after-sales service. Moan, moan and moan. Get your act together you guys, Rolex, who sell around 800,000 watches a year, still only take three months for a service!

All of which reminds me of the story of young Irwin who left Zurich thirty years ago with his parents to live in New York. Last year he returned to Zurich on holiday and was wandering around the old town and stopped in front of a small watch repair shop that he had visited once with his grandfather. Looking in through the window he could see the old watchmaker working at his bench and decided to go in and say a quick Grüezi.
“You know, I came into your shop with my grandfather, Hans Oberdörfer, to have a watch serviced about thirty years ago.”
The old man looked up at Irwin, then turned to some ageing envelopes beside his bench.
“Ya, I remember, it’ll be ready on Tuesday.”
Well, you’ve got to laugh haven’t you.

Source: Europa Star June - July 2014 Magazine Issue