What will come after the pandemic?
Just two months ago, some of us complained about being overworked and were wondering how to outsource their work or find an employee on the market. Now the situation has changed: we are thinking about how to change our work so that it is needed and safe. As a journalist, I’m trying to adapt to the conditions – I’m more directing my form of contact with readers at the Internet, although I love magazines and traditional newspapers (and I guess this will not change). But the most important thing now is: to adapt. The pandemic knows no geographical or class boundaries, so as the epidemic intensifies, I thought I had to be more open to thinking that maybe my European civilisation, to which I am used, is coming to an end. What will be left of us and who will talk about our achievements or inventions? I hope that plastic bags and disposable cutlery is not all that we leave behind. And the stories about what we have done will be told by people, and not by increasingly able bots.
Regularly following the watch industry online I can already see that the epidemic has changed everything we have known so far. Due to the situation, there will be no trade fairs or presentations, and some companies such as Patek Philippe, Rolex, Tudor and Frederique Constant are postponing the premieres of their novelties by several months. Some manufacturers, such as Breitling or the Richemont brands, are organizing online presentations to ensure that they do not lose touch with their customers completely.
On this occasion, some people are wondering: at the time of the spreading coronavirus, when we see terrifying statistics from almost all over the world every day, is it possible, or even right to promote watches? Products that even in the good times were not essential articles? This might be controversial to some, but I say yes, it is. Life has to go on, even if we are living in suspension and lockdown for the time being. And only thinking about buying pasta or toilet paper. This madness will end one day. And like after every great drama, people will have to unwind, because that is how our psyche is constructed. Some sociologists are predicting an explosion of the joy of life, which will probably manifest itself in invading cafés and bars. Then, when we return to normality, “going out” will again mean going to a restaurant, to a concert by our favourite artist, a theatre or cinema premiere. The situation we are seeing now is temporary and abnormal, so for many of us going out with a trash bag is now almost as much fun as watching a Chanel show.
However, after relishing our freedom and the fact that we can finally talk to our friends without the mask on our faces and keeping a safe distance, we will start thinking about beautiful things. Because people will never stop dreaming. That’s why the silence of the cities will be filled with a knock of high-heels as soon as their owners leave the isolation. Women(and perhaps some men too) will put on whatever most beautiful and elegant they have in their wardrobes. This was the case after World War II, for example: tired of the grey colour and wearing clothes previously owned by their own husbands or fathers, women again wanted fancy hats, clothes with a tight waist, that is: everything they did not have either during the war or before, when Chanel promoted the hoyden style.
Certainly, the post-pandemic time will require solidarity with the victims of the virus, both physical and economic. And certainly tact.
Which brands will survive? The answer is trivial and sounds like marketing books: the credible ones. The crisis will probably not hit them so hard. It is also predicted (as with any crisis, anyway) that only those who were well off before the pandemic will survive. And those whose brand concept was weak will not rise from the ashes. The first victims are already there: shortly before the epidemic the company RJ Watches (formerly known as Romain Jerome) went bankrupt. Time will tell who else does not survive this disaster. The number of luxury watch brands will probably decrease, but in the last dozen or so years they have been increasing at such a rate that customers are slowly losing track of what is real luxury.
Traditional Swiss brands, however, have something that no crisis will take away from them: their true value is the know-how nurtured over generations.
And the customers? They will be beaten up, many will lose their jobs or have to lay off employees. After that, they will get on with “clearing the rubble” and returning to a new reality.
Generally speaking, wearing mechanical watches is a kind of hobby, a fetish – it was not abandoned even during and after the wars. In the post-pandemic time, we will probably do our shopping more consciously, choosing what is more durable, better quality and, above all, timeless. And mechanical watches fit this definition perfectly, so I believe that the watch industry will survive this pandemic too. Though it will come out beaten, like all of us.