A new year, a new start. Are you a model watch get-together attendee? If not, you might want to heed these words! A watch get-together – better known as a GTG – is unlike any other get-togethers. Because unlike other get-togethers, this one potentially has hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of people’s most prized possessions crammed within a relatively small area. Attend a few watch GTGs and you will soon pick up its unspoken rules. That said, many still fail to self-impose the behavioural constraints expected during a GTG, and so we are here to make it clear once and for all. Here are 5 etiquette tips for successful, drama-free watch GTGs in 2018:
1. Always get permission first
Asking for permission is something you teach your kids to do before borrowing other kids’ toys. Now imagine if that toy is a $100,000 Laurent Ferrier – all the more reason to ask for permission, right? You’d think that was common sense, yet many watch GTG attendees still neglect to do so. This normally occurs when a watch is being passed around which gives the owner enough anxiety as is. Asking for permission before handling or trying on another person’s precious timepiece, as well as fiddling with its functions, is common courtesy and the first step to watch GTG nirvana.
2. Never touch a watch with unclean hands
So you’ve acquired permission to handle a fellow GTG attendee’s $175,000 Breguet Tradition Fusée Tourbillon. You just had some spring rolls with your hands because the Vietnamese restaurant where the GTG is held makes the best darn spring rolls in town. Do you a) promptly perform a surgical hand scrub to ensure your hands are clean before touching the grail Breguet, or b) grease that Breguet up, box-form sapphire crystal and all with your filthy paws? If you answered b), then you need to reevaluate your life. Too many times have I had to give my watch a thorough wipe-down (and a PTSD counselling session) after a GTG because it was caked in food grease. Nobody likes their watch returned all greasy. Because watch gatherings more often than not occur in the presence of food, dirty hands are almost a given. You owe it to your fellow watch enthusiasts to make sure that your hands are clean.
3. Handle with care
We all have a heavy-handed dude/dudette in our GTG-attending lives. It could be Bob who last time slammed your gold watch onto the table like it was a mahjong tile, or Jane who spins the bezel of your Rolex diver like a potter’s wheel, or Irwin who pushes every damn button on your split-seconds chronograph without a care in the world for the right sequence. If you don’t know a heavy-handed person, then you may be it! It’s important to remember that GTG-goers more often than not bring their most beloved piece to show and tell. We always hear of horror stories where watches are found dented or scratched post-GTG. It doesn’t matter if that watch is a $600 Seiko or a $600,000 Greubel Forsey, one thing’s for sure: it’s someone’s baby. You handle babies with care, not knock them till their limp. Always hold a watch with both hands and if you’re going to try it on, be extra careful while strapping it onto your wrist. Ensure that the watch doesn’t bump or scrape into anything hard, including another watch if you’re ‘double-wristing’, or jewellery. If the watch has an interactive complication like a chronograph or a minute repeater, seek permission before actuating it (refer to rule 1), and be sure you know the right way of operating it. Last but not least, when setting up multiple timepieces for a photoshoot, gentleness goes a long way; place watches onto the table gently, and if they have to come in contact with each other, be sure to be as light-handed as possible.
4. “If you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all”
If Thumper from Bambi gets it, so should you. The watches you see at GTGs are, again, like babies, sometimes really ugly and almost always loved to bits by their owners. You shouldn’t go around explicitly deriding people for their choice of timepiece just because you don’t fancy said choice. Instead of saying “you’re stupid because your 45 mm-wide dress watch is stupid”, say “I personally prefer smaller dress watches”. Instead of saying “A diamond-encrusted Richard Mille? Overcompensating, aren’t we?”, say “I can’t pull of diamonds on a watch”. Even when discussing watchmaking with another attendee, do not get too political or sling insults. Someone said to me in a GTG a year ago that Lange’s finishing is disappointing, that a friend’s watchmaker once opened up a Lange 1 to find poorly finished components hidden under the three-quarter plate. Not only was this meant to rile someone who was wearing a Lange, it was also a blatant lie. Criticism and debate is always welcome, as long as it is constructive, in good spirit, and meant to educate.
5. Drunkenness is a sin
Drunkenness is a sin in any semi-decent watch GTG or event. How would you expect to have a productive gathering of like-minded people if your sobriety has left the building and you’re lying on the floor in a pool of your own vomit, inebriated? I once attended a brand event where someone got so drunk, he started harassing other guests before ralphing all over the place. This was disrespectful not just to the attendees and organisers, but also to himself. Really, this etiquette tip applies to most social events where being appropriate is expected. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for drinking at social functions but there are no excuses for getting drunk when you’re also representing other people or an organisation. If you can’t hold your liquor, stick with lemonade lest you drop and shatter an all-sapphire crystal Hublot or something.