Fine watches are magnet for media.
When things are slow and there is nothing to report or speculate about, you can bet your last dollar that tomorrow's top news is going to be "A Kitten Saved by Hero Fireman" or "Grandpa's junk watch sold for $100,000 on eBay".
In that order.
And yes, we get our share of calls from young (and seasoned) journalists wanting to "feature" our watches. Our usual reply is "Sorry, we are not interested, thanks for calling." In all fairness, would you hand over your finest piece to a total stranger
just because he claims to work for Channel 9 or In Style magazine? Yeah, sure.
This week was not out of the ordinary. I can't remember who he said he wrote for - BRW, Piping Australia, Melbourne Living or Dumbo Feather. ("Behind extraordinary ideas there are extraordinary people. Dumbo Feather is a magazine about these people.") It would not matter anyway - the guy on the phone was as enthusiastic as they get.
What did set him apart, however, was his boldness.
After the 5 minute breathless monologue he finally got to the point:
"We are working on a special issue dedicated to fine watches and we would like to offer you a chance to supply a watch for a photo shoot. I can send my assistant straight away to collect it."
"Yeah, sure. Which one would be suitable" - I asked.
"I am very particular with this project and there is only one watch on your website that
would suit my requirements. Panerai Radiomir 1938."
"Good pick mate- you really got me excited now! There is only one small problem: the watch comes with a very peculiar price tag: it's called 'price available upon request'.
Which means it is worth a few dollars."
"Oh, we are not buying it, so for us, the price is irrelevant"
"Cool. But with all due respect, the price is very relevant to me because this beauty
owes me big bucks. It is what we call a liability. I mean, if it goes missing, the loss is mine, isn't it?"
"Yes, but I'll take special care and I'll wear it personally until it's returned to you".
"Now that you mentioned it, the watch is UNWORN, still in full plastic wrap so I guess this could be a problem when taking photos?"
"We will unwrap it. No problem."
"Sounds like you've got it all covered and planned. And am I going to be mentioned as
a watch supplier to the photo shoot?"
"Well this is not really a common practice, but if you insist, we can do that as well.
Mind you, we are not in the business of promoting other businesses; we are primarily interested in artistic / design side of the watch."
At that point I realized we went too far. He has obviously mistaken my cynicism for naivety so I had no choice but to break his heart.
"Sorry mate, I think I'll pass on your offer. I was just pulling your leg a bit; we are nothing but ordinary second hand dealers and you would be better off if you call an Authorized Panerai dealer to arrange for a similar watch."
"Thanks for wasting my time" he said. "You should have told me so straight away".
And he was right. I should have told him so - if he would only care to listen.