My wife has imposed a ban in our (now quarantined) house. The word “Coronavirus” and all issues related to it can only be discussed at mealtimes and not at any other time. The reason is quite simple. Whether it is television updates, internet headlines, radio or social media comment – Coronavirus discussion is inescapable just about everywhere else. So at the very least, a period of space between discussions within our house is a welcome relief.
This week on Instagram, @Horology_Ancienne made a strong case for why it was important to continue debating watches and our passion for collecting. At times like this, watches provide a much-needed break away from all the bad news. A welcome relief. Indeed, I received a number of messages saying that although one cannot diminish the scale of the current global disaster, one can at least gain a brief interlude of distraction when we continue our ongoing thoughts about watches. And it is in that guise that this blog is written.
I wanted, in particular, to draw attention to one particular point raised by @Horology_Ancienne. It is regarding the cancellation of Basel and the dilemma of what Patek Philippe should do regarding the novelties for 2020.
In recent blogs, I have called for the cancellation of Basel to catalyse manufacturers to change the emphasis of this annual event. As bizarre as it may seem, the current situation seemingly could lend itself to just such a scenario.
Patek Philippe obviously have a stable of novelties for 2020. They would have been primed and ready for release at Basel. Instead, we are now in this limbo-land for the foreseeable months ahead where public gatherings and life as normal will not be likely.
So what should Patek Philippe do with their 2020 novelties? Keep them on hold until the world has settled down and then release them on their website? Or wait until the world has settled down and hold their own type of Basel event but instead something organised by Patek Philippe and plausibly hosted in Geneva where the novelties will be revealed?
Or, how about something more radical?
It is fairly clear that wherever one is in the world, quarantine and social distancing is likely to be the norm for the foreseeable future. How about taking the radical step of recognising just how miserable this will be and instead releasing the 2020 novelties on the Patek Philippe website…..two novelties per week? And start now.
Allow the collector to see the watches on the website and for discussion and evaluation to take place as it normally does on the forums and Instagram. Give the collector something exciting to look forward to each week on the Patek Philippe website. OK, it won’t make the news about the Coronavirus any less depressing but it will provide moments of distraction that will be truly appreciated by the average Patek Philippe collector. It will encourage a focus of attention and evaluation to which we can all look forward.
OK, nobody will be able to try the watches on, but how different is that for the majority of collectors who do not attend Basel?
So, Patek Philippe, how about it? Take the radical step of releasing the 2020 novelties on the Patek Philippe website, two watches per week. To my thinking, that would be a far better way of releasing the novelties than waiting indefinitely for the Coronavirus pandemic to resolve. Who knows how long that will be.
It would also be a break from the Basel tradition. And in being so, would allow greater flexibility in re-thinking the entire Basel approach. In recent weeks, I have called on Patek Philippe to use the Basel cancellation to re-focus the novelties with the collector front and foremost – even ahead of the Authorised Dealers. This would be a great opportunity to move in that direction.