Vous êtes ici
L'air du temps04/09/2008 - par Mark Tungate
I was in Switzerland this week meeting watchmakers. The results will see the light of day some time next year, in a forthcoming book about the luxury industry, but I wanted to give you a preview. I feel justified in doing that because my old friend Marshall McLuhan regarded watches as media (he considered any form of external communication media – including clothing).
If you've ever wondered why certain Swiss watches are expensive, take a trip to Geneva. I saw watchmakers assembling complicated movements, piece by piece, by hand. The bracelets are assembled by hand, too. You can see this fairly easily at a new space above the Piaget shop in rue du Rhône (the Genevois equivalent of avenue Montaigne). Piaget's Time Gallery is partly a museum – vintage watches are on display, along with details of the brand's history and hilarious advertising spots from the 1970s – and partly a lesson in horlogerie. Behind a glass screen, young watchmakers are bent over their tools, assembling watches or restoring those of loyal customers. They even wear those funny eyeglasses.
This genuine brand experience demonstrated exactly why a Swiss watch is a true luxury. The marketing was confirmed by the reality. Imagine if designer fashion brands did the same thing? What if a clothing boutique was also a museum devoted to the brand's heritage and an atelier where we could see our new coat being made? Except, of course, most designer clothes are made in Asia. You see my point.