Just an update. Am leaving for Switzerland on the 29th, will be away for a couple of weeks (back on April 12, I think). I’ve known about the trip for some time but have just got confirmation of the dates. It’s a junket, I’m going to cover two international watch fairs - one in Basel (March 31-Apr 5) and the other in Geneva (Apr 5-10) - for a special issue of our niche magazine How to Spend It. I should add here I know nothing at all about the watch industry or about timepieces (which fact I’ve been happily disclosing to horrified PR people who have been calling to fix appointments for me with their international clients).
The people who’ve seen my lukewarm reaction to the news so far have accused me of being either 1) a natural-born grouch/cynic, or 2) someone who’s so emotionally constipated that he’s incapable of admitting to happiness. I like to think there’s a bit of truth in both charges generally speaking, but in this particular case allow me to list my reservations:
- I’m NOT going to be gamboling about the beautiful Swiss countryside (if in fact there is such a thing. I believe it’s a myth). “Ooh, that country has beautiful mountains and plains and very large and cuddly cows,” I’ve already been told by the envious. But me, I’m going to spend all day, every single day, in crowded trade fairs looking at luxury watches, trudging wearily from stall to stall, with an average of 10 appointments a day.
- “You’ll have watches coming out of your ears by the second day itself,” the senior editor who has gone for this assignment the past three years told me cheerfully. That’s a not-nice thought, considering it was uncomfortable enough just tying them to my wrist for the few months back in 1988 that I experimented (have never worn one otherwise).
- I’m already getting dozens of mails from watch companies to fix half-hour time slots for appointments. Also got one from an independent engraver, who movingly wrote, “I won’t be exposing at either of the events but could you visit my website...” (I suspect a language translator might have been involved, hence “displaying” being converted into “exposing”)
- On a more serious note, a couple of personal situations make a two-week trip out of Delhi a bit problematic at this time. I was initially told it would be a 5-6 day trip and that was cool but two weeks is in the slight-discomfort zone.
Don’t know how Net-connected I’m going to be out there (between me and the marketing chap who’s going along, there should be at least one laptop but one never knows). But will try to keep posting - will need to take lots of notes every day anyhow, so might as well do it on the comp if possible.
“In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.”
(from Harry Lime’s speech in The Third Man)