This weekend, a number of subscribers alerted me about the latest video on the right to repair movement in the US. In essence, the video shares some good news and buzz with optimism. The right to repair is something we stand for firmly and it is one of the most important issues of horology which directly and equally impacts both independent watchmakers and watch owners alike. Meaning: we are into it together, for the common good and common benefit.
The video to watch is this one: Apple Store vs Repair Shop. It explains in detail, in simple terms, what the issue is all about. You can literally replace Apple with any $wi$$ megabrand, and computer with watch - and the story would ring the same. Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0NCjoUx-KLI
After being involved in this issue for almost a decade, there are a couple of details in this puzzle you should be aware of. Both legislators and big brands use some of these quasi arguments to muddy the waters.
1. "The issue is complex". No, it is not. You've watched the video, you've got it. There is nothing complex about an argument which can be summed up in one sentence; you bought the watch, it's yours, and you can do whatever you want with it. This is a very fundamental consumer right. Any fine print to this covenant between you, as the watch owner, and the manufacturer, is simply forced onto you by the manufacturer so he can squeeze as much money out of further repair as possible, or to deem your watch irreparable, forcing you to buy a new one.
2. The role of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is to promote competition and fair trading, and protect consumer’s rights. This is in theory. Practically, the ACCC will only be kicked into action if a sufficient number of consumers (watch owners) seek arbitration and protection. In reality, this is almost impossible. It takes many rowers rowing in unison to overcome a mighty wave. Writing a random letter or two to the ACCC will produce no result. The matter has to be presented with the help of professional lobbyists.
3. Even when the ACCC is notified of monopolist bastardry, there is no urgency to act because the number of 'affected' consumers is pitiful. I have been told to my face, by the ACCC that the Commission is not interested in protecting the rights of a handful of rich people wearing expensive Rolex watches. Not exact words obviously, but that was the bottom line. Case closed. This is why the right to repair movement will only stand a chance if the issue is large enough and affects your ordinary consumer and his widely used gadget - a regular Johnny Appleseed with a broken iPhone.
4. The tsunami wave which constantly and relentlessly pushes our small rowing boat back to shore is generated by $wi$$ corporate mafia. With an unlimited budget to spend on advertising, armed with an army of nasty lawyers, even a National Government body like the ACCC stands no chance. The ACCC is a toothless paper tiger. Every Rolex you buy, every Cartier, Breitling or Panerai you 'invest in' lessens the chances that that brand will ever supply a spare part to you, or your favourite independent watchmaker.
5. The right to repair movement is without a doubt depicted in mainstream media as 'leftist' or at the kindest, as a 'green' or 'environmentalists' type movement. This false rhetoric makes it unsellable to people with a disposable income large enough to afford a luxury $wi$$ watch. The idea of paying less for a watch repair does sound attractive to a Rolex owner, but at the end of the day, paying more for the privilege of dealing with the status symbol brand directly is worth the price and easily justifiable. Especially when Rolex tells you, the owner, that your independent watchmaker is simply too old, too dumb and unwilling to invest, incapable of repairing your 'precious investment'. Right to repair is like that strange cousin who wasted his entire life fighting for justice, clever enough to keep their job, but not clever enough to buy a house overlooking the harbour; one who never gets an invite to the family barbeque because they make everyone around them uncomfortable.
6. I should really stop here - because there is no good news. The right to repair case has been lost in the 1950s at the rise of mega corporations, and today, our fight is purely symbolic in nature. Yes, we will continue to print freedom mugs and produce YouTube videos, write and keep you informed - if for no other reason than to annoy bottom feeders: the "horological journalists" of mainstream media who are going beyond their commercial duty in promoting $wi$$ megabrands. Those ass-licking self-serving poltrons who continue to write and publish horological vomit. To them: go to hell, you mongrels.
7. And then again... you never know. Maybe one day, in the far future, our fight for what is just and fair may give a birth to some horological ‘friendlyjordies’ who will be bold and gutsy enough to move and inspire. We still live in hope.
8. So you ask, how can you be so anti Swiss AND sell Swiss watches in same newsletter? This is easy. Half of the newsletter is a direct product of what you want and expect from me. The other half is what I expect from myself. As Scott Fitzgerald said: "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function". Makes sense.