When Two of My Worlds Collide…
…creating a cataclysm of douchebaggery.
Many of you know that I ran my own public relations firm for about 25 years. Our clients were mostly technology companies.
Some of you also know that I like watches. This affection for wristwatches goes back to childhood. From a $10 Timex, to an Apple Watch, to a high-end mechanical watch, each are little marvels of engineering. I have collected more than few watches over the years. None of them are worth much, but a couple might be considered mildly “collectible.”
So, how do these two topics – PR and watches - relate in my life?
Well, as a tech PR guy, I have read more than a few fawning, uncritical news stories about some new tech product that is going to “make the world a better place.”
And, quite honestly, I have done more than my fair share of spinning, puffing up, and splitting sematic hairs in preparing everything from press releases to speeches to annual reports for my clients. It was my job. But I always understood that good reporters were NOT there to do my client’s bidding. Their loyalty was (or should have been) to their readers. And, for the most part, all the tech journalists I dealt with over the years did their jobs with integrity and a healthy dose of skepticism.
Not so “reporters” who “cover” the watch industry. As a watch aficionado, I pay attention to
news the torrent of bullshit coming out of the watch world and this week of March 27 is a doozy. There’s an annual watch trade show going on in Geneva, Switzerland, and even the most fawning of tech news stories ever written (looking at you Ken Auletta) can’t hold a candle to the crap that the watch trade press writes.
In 30+ years of following the watch “press,” I have never – EVER - seen a negative story about a watch company or its products. I mean NEVER.
And every little design tweak, color shift or millimeter-size change in a watch is met by the watch “press” with breathless adoration, as if changing the dial color on a Rolex from light blue to aquamarine is some sort of bold, visionary act of watchmaking the likes of which the hallowed and storied world of watchmaking has never seen!
It would not surprise me one bit if I saw the following story come out on one of the fawning, sycophantic watch web sites this week:
Today, in a stunning move of audacious creativity, the CEO of Patek-Phillipe announced that he is going to blow his nose into a limited edition of 50 custom made tissues and sell them to a hungry public, which has expressed a strong interest in used, Swiss snotrags. Each mucus-filled tissue will be hand-numbered and placed lovingly in a burled walnut and sapphire crystal box so that it can be displayed proudly with the owner’s Monets, Manets and money. The boxes will be humidity controlled, ensuring the precious nasal effluent will remain moist and runny for generations, the way all fine, Swiss boogers were meant to be.
At a lavish launch event, where buckets of black-market Russian caviar were served capably but begrudgingly by underpaid migrants from France, Patek CEO Sven Bjorland remarked that “I never imagined hocking a loogie into a Kleenex would be so f-ing profitable, but the watch press will write a glowing tribute to anything that comes out of Switzerland. Just last week, my cat coughed up gargantuan hairball on a reporter’s shoes and he promptly Instagrammed it with the hashtag ‘#inspired.’
It was at this point I realized, I could sell anything to these dimwits, and now I am.”
The first limited edition booger bandana will be sold at a charity auction, with all proceeds going toward delivering cigar humidors to underprivileged children in Gstaad.
You think I’m kidding? Well, just barely. These are actual headlines pulled from watch industry “news” sites on the last 36 hours:
- “The New Oris ProPilot Altimeter, Back And Better Than Ever”
- “The Tudor Black Bay 54 Doesn't Waste A Millimeter”
- “The Rolex Explorer Is Now 40mm.”
- “The New JLC Reverso Small Seconds Takes A Colorful Turn”
- “Piaget’s Latest Polo Perpetual Calendar Is Rock Solid”
Don’t worry if it doesn’t mean anything to you because, in the grand scheme of things, it’s all actually quite meaningless.
I have nothing against the watch companies per se. Many of these watches are really stunning (if insanely expensive and overly indulgent) feats of engineering.
I just wish the watch press would either grow a tiny set of balls and do something other than act as adjuncts for the Swiss watch industry’s marketing and PR departments or grow a brain and actually just take money directly from these companies. Either way would be more honest than what these
journalists stenographers do now.
Not likely. The circle jerk between watchmakers and the “press” is firmly established at this point and no one seems inclined to upset the applecart.
So, I anxiously anticipate the next announcement from Vacheron Constantin that its newest chronometer will include a second hand made of hardened bee pollen from the organic hives found in one secret location in a forest near Lake Lucerne.
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