Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The Real World

Regular readers will note a clear drop-off in the amount of posting coming from Tempus Fugit over the past few months.  And to be very honest, it has been a small break I have given myself to collect my thoughts on the industry, how it operates, and what role the media (print, digital, influencer) plays in it.  And it gets to a point where you have to call it like you see it, so here goes.  Today's topic is the sometimes misguided pursuit of being right -

1.  How Much Is Enough?  When making a point runs the risk of getting confused with reality.
Point of full disclosure, I have in the past done some freelance work for Vortic (arranging press appointments at BaselWorld 2018), the company out in Colorado that specialize in taking the movements of American pocket watches, creating new crowns and wrist watch cases, and selling them.  In addition to a large stock of movements that they have purchased from estate sales, former jewelers and garage sales, they also offer customers the opportunity to send in their own pocket watch to convert it to a watch that they can wear and enjoy as opposed to having a pocket watch sitting in a desk drawer.

What I have come to understand via a discussion started on Watch U Seek is that the SWATCH Group in the form of their brand Hamilton has decided to pursue legal action against Vortic.  Here is the thread from that watch forum -

And a google search brought me to this summary of the case which can be found here:

Hamilton International Ltd. v. Vortic LLC et al, No. 1:2017cv05575 - Document 63 (S.D.N.Y. 2018)

I am not a trained attorney or legal scholar, but it makes for some very interesting reading.  One particular item in the document caught me off-guard as I was enjoying my morning coffee while reading, and the resultant impulse laughter caused said hot beverage to shoot through my nose and decorate the screen of my computer.  On the positive side?  My sinus passages are nice and clear, and I have a pleasant, buzzing sensation.  That portion speaks to what appears to be an active avoidance to actually show up and come to an agreement.  Essentially (and please correct me if I have misunderstood), SWATCH Group, in particular Hamilton, sued Vortic in the US, and named a specific person in Switzerland as being the authority on their behalf.  This person then did not show up or phone in for the first scheduled meeting, and opted to deputize another individual to represent Hamilton for the second one because... it was too expensive for the responsible person from SWATCH/Hamilton to attend and participate.  

Too expensive?

Well, let's consider some realities -

The SWATCH group recently held two (in my opinion) very glamorous, and I can only assume fairly expensive press junkets to Shanghai, China for OMEGA, and to the Breeders Cup for Longines, where members of the press were brought (I can only assume by airplane) to attend.  I am not a licensed travel agent, so I cannot claim to have definitive knowledge of what pricing would be (airfare, hotels, ground transport, wining and dining) for multiple members of the press, but I feel confident that it would be more costly than even a first class air ticket from Zurich to New York and a night at the Ritz with an afternoon cocktail at bemelmans bar.  More specifically, Hamilton seems to have funds to cover their continued aeronautical partnership with Nicolas Ivanoff.  Obviously every company has a right to allocate their monies as they see fit, and apparently sponsorship of a pilot is considered a very crucial budget line item. Now whether or not the court finds the argument of high cost reasonable is a matter for others to opine on more definitively.  I just find it curious.

Here's hoping that both participants in this legal action can have what is often referred to in the language of addiction as a "moment of clarity", where the realities of this legal fandango can come to the surface, a realistic agreement can be reached, and both sides can move forward.

As a trained mediator, I frequently get called in to help individuals and companies settle disputes either before they go to trial, or when the courts decide that the dispute brought before them is not really worth the time, effort and expense to actually go to court.  And in my experience, there is almost always a tipping point where the dispute goes beyond what it was really supposed to be about in the first place, and gets down to, well... let's just say that emotion clouds common sense and the participants lose track of what the issue was in the first place.  And in these situations, there is also a point where there is no longer winning for either side, only degrees of losing, for both sides.


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