101 Op Ed: Most Won­der­ful Time In The World

A tale of ser­vic­ing done right – at a booth in Baselworld 2016

World of Watches (Singapore) - - Contents - WORDS ASHOK SO­MAN

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

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