101 Op Ed: Most Wonderful Time In The World
A tale of servicing done right – at a booth in Baselworld 2016
A tale of servicing done right – at a booth in Baselworld 2016, by Ashok Soman
Baselworld really is the most wonderful time in the world, at least for me. Well, it really should be because there is no greater celebration of timekeeping (and jewellery too, which people often forget) in the world (sorry, SIHH). As a watch and jewellery specialist, there is just something about being there with so many like-minded individuals, all engaged in the pursuit of future time. Nevertheless, I must report that this year’s was by far the most exciting fair I’ve personally attended.
Now, you will have already heard about the gloomy atmosphere at this year’s fair, and it is indeed a fact that exhibitors and guests alike seemed unusually restrained. There is already so much news on this front that I won’t flog a dead horse here, especially when I have happy news to report. Before I get to this, I need to set the stage properly.
This story actually begins a few years ago, when a watch collector sought my advice on servicing his watch. The keeper on his leather strap had come apart and he wanted to know what he could do about it. I was confident I could solve the problem without much of a fuss, but things got complicated. The brand in question answered my questions with questions of their own, which was, as you can imagine, very frustrating. In the end, watch in hand, I went to the brand’s boutique and the staff there offered a simple solution, thankfully.
Unfortunately, that solution involved changing the entire strap and the problem recurred last year. Apparently, this issue will repeat itself and changing the strap is the only thing for it. The cause of the problem is really the humidity here and it affects all leather goods that come into direct contact with our skin and the environment. For my collector friend, it was too much to bear and he swapped his leather strap for a rubber one.
I’m not zooming in to this particular issue here. I only raise it to highlight the shortcomings in servicing watches, not from third parties but from brands themselves. It is a hell of a thing to invest in a superbly crafted watch only to have all the joy in the purchase and subsequent wearing of the timepiece tainted by the poor communication skills and inattentiveness of the service staff. OK, all this is well known and sadly features quite regularly in watch forums, which is why I was amply prepared for disappointment and frustration in my own experience.
My prized watch from Glashütte Original had developed an issue that caused me no small amount of grief. The clasp would not snap shut anymore, and I was resigned to having to replace it. Expectations lowered all the way to zero, I went to the Glashütte Original booth at Baselworld to merely ask if this problem was a common one. Well, instead of asking any questions at all, they fixed it. Just like that, no extra fees and no need to see any papers.
The head of servicing basically took a look at my watch and asked if he could spend some time alone with it. I thought he was trying to stall as he figured out how to tell me that nothing could be done at Baselworld about something like this. As I wrote earlier, I didn’t expect Glashütte Original to fix the watch on the spot, so I just waited. Not two minutes later, he returned with my watch, clasp fixed.
I was overcome by what I can only describe as euphoria. I asked him how he did it, and he just smiled mysteriously. I later learned from his colleagues who were visiting Singapore that he was very pleased to have been able to help a customer at the fair, and has apparently been spreading this tale, even as I have (I first wrote it up online the day it happened).
So, aside from being a nice experience for me and perhaps an indication that German efficiency is indeed alive and well at Glashütte Original, what’s the relevance you might ask? Well, I’m belabouring the point here, but this is what the servicing experience should be. Your watch, which is a magical object, should be restored to the pink of health as if by magic (or by the Force, if you prefer). Brands spend a lot of money to create this sense of wonder in the product, so to have all that effort undone at service centres and boutiques is just sad.
By way of contrast, in my happy example, the good people at Glashütte Original added untold value to my watch, and gave me a nice story to share. If only all servicing experiences could be like this one…
THINGS GOT COMPLICATED. THE BRAND IN QUESTION ANSWERED MY QUESTIONS WITH QUESTIONS OF THEIR OWN, WHICH WAS, AS YOU CAN IMAGINE, VERY FRUSTRATING