Thursday, June 18, 2020

Crack is Wack - Or When Watch Town Finally Hits Bottom

The numbers are in, and not really surprising, the export numbers have cratered.
Courtesy of Wikipedia

And yes, gentle reader, for the purpose of this article, crack is a metaphor. But it is a fairly apt one. Crack decimated entire districts in metropolitan US cities back in the 80s. It was readily available, highly addictive, and its safe to say would cause those using it to lose all sense of reality. And not unlike stupidity, crack does not discriminate - white, black, female, male, rich or poor? Well, as that other great commentator on the watch business, Rodney Little as played by Delroy Lindo in Clockers put it -

“If God created anything better than crack cocaine he kept that shit for himself.”

I talk to a lot of brand managers and even some owners. And interesting to relate, some of the brands (small, scrappy, hungry, independent, one or two person bands) are having some of their best months ever. Several of the big brands are re-shuffling the decks. More on that in a future post, but the point is that the quick, nimble and not-so-rich are having their moment. And those waiting for valet service might be slinging their hooks as they "pursue other professional opportunities".

Watch Town attracts some unique personalities. And those who sit on the Town Council have, if were honest, some pretty powerful egos that need to be fed. A big part of that feeding is reflected in payment. As many know, Sophie Guieysse was removed from her position on the senior executive board. What is particularly hilarious about this is what drove this decision. Essentially, cost cutting steps were put into place, and (if I understand it correctly) several senior executives who were making ridiculously high salaries were bent out of shape because while they were still making ridiculously high salaries, they weren't as ridiculously high as they'd like. Now in fairness, while they had been reigned in, the top executives saw a fairly significant increase. I am also curious where all of this angst and concern was when lower-paid employees saw their jobs simply cut. A watch maker gets laid off or made redundant, hey that's life. But a mid-level executive doesn't get their second serving of pay? Well that's an outrage! It's hard to have sympathy for the levels of gluttony and greed that engender wrath when left unappeased. Sure, that still leaves four deadly sins to work through, but you get my point.

Courtesy of the FH
And really, what all of this discord at Richemont underscores is the same disconnect that is taking place all over Watch Town. As the above graph makes clear, things are not exactly improving. And keep in mind, that as shitty as the export numbers are, they are nowhere near as bad as the sales actuals. Remember pals and gals, exports DO NOT EQUAL SALES. And for once? Thank goodness they don't.

At a time where the bottom is rushing up to meet the watch business, it might be a good time for the leaders of Watch Town to reassess just what is important. Bonuses and company cars are great, but having your brand survive so you can actually have a job might, just might, be a more constructive use of time.

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