Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Grand Day Out - Conclusion - It's not about the watch

My last stop at GP/JR was the area where the high complications are created and nurtured along. I must confess that I was hesitant to take too many distracting photos owing to the intense level of work going on!

Most of us will struggle through our professional lives to some extent (what we at least think) of as"averageness".  And I am sure that this is true in any profession.  And it is safe to say that in the watchmaking industry, there are folks who view it as a job - if not this one, perhaps another industry.  

But this is not the feeling that you have when visiting GP/JR and it is most certainly not you impression when speaking with the folks there.  There is a real feeling, a true sense of connectedness.  I have heard similar statements made about Brunello Cucinelli.  

Anyone can make a watch, many people can make a great watch, and only a handful of them can make an exceptional one.  But that does not make them exceptional people, or the company that's name adorns it exceptional.  When I first started doing PR for DOXA, I got to meet a lot of folks - some famous, some   I'd followed closely, one a childhood idol.  And I can tell you that it is often not so great to meet these folks, they can never live up to the high levels you have set.  Since I started this blog, and launched Chronometers, I have had a similar experience with the famous companies I had idolized.  People who are in PUBLIC RELATIONS who want nothing to do with the public, people in SALES who could care less whether you bought or not.  People in SERVICE who truly need a refresher course on what that word really means.  People who go about their job with a firm acceptance of "averageness".  

And this is why Girard-Perregaux/JEANRICHARD is IMPORTANT, is SPECIAL - is EXCEPTIONAL!  It's the people!  They GET IT, THEY CARE - THEY REFUSE TO BE AVERAGE!  You don't just see it, you feel it, you sense it, it permeates the place.  Now granted, maybe everyone was on their "best behavior", but that would have been a remarkable display of orchestrated discipline for a humble writer like myself.

And coming back from the tour, on our way to lunch, Dimitra, Xavier and Willy had another surprise for me.  My humble "Portuguese-cased, re-dialed" Girard-Perregaux had enjoyed a bit of a "spa" visit -
A nice clear crystal...
A new strap, and buckle -
And a new crown -

The perfect end to the perfect morning.

I would like to close this by sharing what I wrote on the TimeZone forum:  

This is from a conversation on TimeZone -
What does 221 years of Girard-Perregaux mean to you? Mar 22, 2012 - 12:55 PM

I suspect that you could ask 10 people and get 10 different answers. I think that Girard-Perregaux (and for that matter, JeanRichard) is a brand that is deeper than just the "label". Consider this - brands are born, hum along, peter out, die - and sometimes are brought back to life. It is not "the brand" that does all of this by itself - it is the people behind the brand. Yes, there are a lot of beautiful, creative and innovative watches out there - but for the most part, a watch cannot sit up and tell you its history, cannot engage with you on a deeper level without the benefit of some shared experience. Again, this comes back to people. And yes, Girard-Perregaux is rich in history, technology, and innovation. But perhaps one of its most valuable resources is its people.  And this message that people - and customers are important is something you sense at EVERY LEVEL of the organization. I REALLY want to get a NEW Girard-Perregaux or JeanRichard now - not just because the watch is nice (which it most certainly is), but because of the people behind/in front of the brand are as fantastic as they are.

Yes, I am a little biased, I did get to peek (behind the curtain), but ultimately, aren't we all looking for that connection? Without that, a watch is just an object.

For those of you who go to BaselWorld, think on this - how many times do you get a cold impression - or downright indifference from a watch company or their representative? Here's the thing, Girard-Perregaux and all of these other wonderful, historic firms are in the PEOPLE business - it just so happens that their specialization within the people business is watches. Girard-Perregaux/JeanRichard actually get and understand that, and it is evident in everything that they do.

So there you have it!  

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