The Tyre-Kicker's Diary
As I mentioned above, I spent the last two days in Dubai for administrative reasons, without an awful lot useful to do. I did catch up with an old friend or two, but rather than sit in my hotel room on the computer and do something productive, I basically spent most of my time in the Dubai Mall. Aside from a few shoe shops and a movie, my time was dedicated pretty much entirely to wasting the time of salespeople in watch boutiques.
That perhaps came out a little meaner than I meant it. During the day time, mid week, these places are very quiet. Sales assistants are standing around to attention, mostly a bit bored, and more than happy to chat about their collections, comparisons and competitors, with someone who now has (thanks to you guys), at least the basic knowledge of a new sales assistant! And my tyre-kicking wasn't entirely insincere, of course. I might be broke right now, and the tiny acquisition I have in mind over the next few weeks might be laughable compared to the wonders that I saw this week. But as others have mentioned, anyone who's interested in a watch is a potential customer. Business has good years and bad years. And for my next good year, someone's going to benefit, at least in some small way. And it's likely to be one of them.
From my point of view, I got to hang out in some very well decorated and pleasant surroundings, drink some surprisingly decent free coffee, and chat to some pleasant and knowledgeable people about things in which I have developed an interest. I was able, like a small boy sitting on a fire engine, to have the fantasy experience of putting insanely complicated and expensive things on my wrist. And perhaps more importantly, to establish from among those things I think I might be able to buy one day, which would actually work for me, and which wouldn't. From the sales assistants' point of view, they got to be seen to be busy by the boss, with someone who was polite, friendly and I hope stimulating company, and who they could reasonably hope will be a customer some day. That is, of course, if they care: companies in this region pay zero or terrible commission, so it's often just a wage game. In which case, I think they just enjoyed having a visitor to talk to.
I'm conscious in all this that our friend Nuke has had a terrible experience of being (mis) assessed by sales assistants and ignored. I, as someone with small change in my pocket and less in the bank, was treated well everywhere. It helps being forty-one, of a certain physical presence, and the confidence born of age and experience to wander into such a place like I'm expecting a round of applause. Good shoes and a recently tailored Canali sports jacket also helped, I imagine. That I'd thrifted the latter (first time in my life!) for ten bucks the week before was known only to me, but the adjustments worked well, and as I was probably the only man in the entire "World's Largest" mall wearing a jacket, certainly by choice, I suppose I would have made an impression. I only hope that a shorts-wearing Chinese billionaire wasn't ignored at some stage because I was taking my time!
There were a couple of things I said that got me taken seriously as well, I think: asking about specific models and what's new, gave the sales assistants somewhere to start and showed I had at least a passing interest in the brand. Wearing a watch with a story (my 43 year old Omega) was a nice ice breaker too. Also, I asked about the reasonably priced pieces and only admired the great wonders in their cases. Until we had a rapport, after which I'd say quite clearly that I would probably never be able to buy such a thing, and then ask to have a look anyway just for fun. That is not a concept alien to shop assistants, and perfectly acceptable once they've found you to be a pleasant person and showing a genuine interest - even in their entry level models.
Anyway, tyre-kicking tips over. Time to talk about some specific watches. I'll do each boutique as a separate post, but spoiler the content so I don't stuff up the whole page with my ramblings. Also because the pictures might be large - my Blackberry camera is useless, for which I apologise in advance. I'll therefore upload full size to compensate for the blur and poor quality!
And to close this introduction, a repeat of yesterday's: I didn't see anything I actually thought I'd ever buy in Blancpain, so flat out asked to see the minute repeater just for my own amusement. I only went in because I saw it in the window. As the place was entirely empty, they were only too happy. Here's a rotated pic for better viewing. I have to say, it is a remarkable looking beast:
CARROUSEL RÉPÉTITION MINUTES CHRONOGRAPHE FLYBACK (Click to show)
Now, onward: first stop Cartier.