This is the week where all the other online bloggers and publications rate their top stories of the year, review the best articles they wrote and do a little self-indulgent bragging. Sorry– if you are looking for the five best stories of 2016 from ATimelyPerspective, you will have to look back and judge for yourself. Most of the top-rated stories with highest number of viewers are either those that have ultra-high dollar prices in the headlines, those that have been retweeted by brands and those that have the most coveted watch brand names on them. To me, this doesn’t mean they are the best articles of the year — just the most trafficked.
“Best” is Relative
To me, the best articles of the year are the real features: exclusive interviews with celebrities who talk about what time means to them; behind-the-scenes factory tours, trips and interviews with executives; revelations about the state of the industry or the true inherent meaning of a new watch, a new technology, a new direction. Of course, as a journalist with a Master’s Degree in newspaper journalism (just the facts, M’am), I like writing original content. Truth be told, it’s hard to pump out original content day in and day out — even if you have a team. It’s easy to take a press release, change the headline and first graph and run it so you are first to unveil the new product news. It’s much harder to receive the press release and ignore it for a while, maybe until you can get your hands on the product, and then write about it in depth. The problem is, this is a fine line we all walk, and most of us have to straddle the fence sometimes — dangling a leg on both sides so that we provide something for everyone. Who determines which article is best is more of a numbers game. But writers who love to write have their favorites no matter what the traffic and viewership says. “Best” is relative.
Challenges Spark Change
As I look back at 2016, with the incredible number of challenges it presented for the world in general and the watch world specifically, I may just say I’m okay with the year coming to a close. Mind you, for me, it was a great year of adventure, continued friendships, proud moments — with a faux pas or two along the way — and rich memories. I am always so grateful for my experiences in the watch world and for the long-standing relationships I have made over three-and-a-half decades in this business. Many of the people I am closest to today are true friends — and would be even if I were not involved in the industry.
But on a business note, the watch and jewelry world this year was mightily challenged. Many people say it was a “perfect storm” that came together to wreak havoc. Maybe it was. We endured enormous geo-political changes (governments changed, countries struggled, currencies plummeted) globally. These issues augmented the effects of a multi-year shift by watch brands in the types, sizes, prices and production numbers that had been on-going. Suddenly brands were glut with expensive, unwanted (for the most part) inventory. Add to that the incredible changing landscape of how the world buys luxury (when the world buys luxury), and the loss of hundreds of retail jewelry stores this year alone, and we find ourselves in truly challenging times.
Everyone is re-examining their plan, their product, their position. Some are changing rank and file in the executive line up, others are amping down production, changing product direction and prices, and yet others are boldly moving forward with the staid consistency of centuries of experience behind them. Brands, retailers, press, and even consumers are re-evaluating the power of the worldwide web. Yes, some sites deliver numbers but are they the numbers of the qualified readers brands want? Does it matter? Maybe reaching younger viewers will translate down the road to older followers. There are no real answers … we are all just exploring the landscape and figuring out the best scene for each of us.
In the end, the good, and the bad, of challenging times is that it sparks change. Whether or not that change revitalizes the business remains to be seen.
While many brands will most likely be playing it safe in the early portion of 2017, I believe that what we really need in 2017 is a pioneering spirit. We must be willing to take some risks and make some significant strides to ensure that when the good times roll again (and they will, they always do), we are all prepared and ready to roll with them. That old saying, “no guts, no glory” applies ever as strongly as we follow a collective quest to the new future of watch retail, watch collecting and watch production.
I know that I have a lot of changes in store for 2017 from both a personal and business perspective. I know a lot of others in the industry now who are also re-thinking their purpose and their plan. I am blessed to be a part of this dynamic industry and I feel strongly that with confidence and a pioneering spirit, we will all come out strong and the watch world will be the better for it.
To me, the watch world is like a fine mechanical watch — it is the sum of all of its parts, and they must all work together for perfect results.