Every year some of my friends would make their way to Geneva for the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH). Its like a mecca for all things watches….. new technology, new materials etc. I will not write about the brands or the watches, that one has been covered by all the journalist, but I will highlight some that are linked to my story.
Mid last year, at our usual drinking place , my friend, Mr Peter Chong brought up the subject of going to SIHH. All this while that I have been collecting watches, I told myself what is the point of wasting money to go there when the watches would finally come to Singapore. After a few more beer sessions, I was convinced that one must make the trip at least once. We would be going under the invitation of Lange. So began the planning for the trip to SIHH 2014……so exciting!
I told myself that I would use my points for the redemption of the flight and that would keep my cost down. And since the dates were confirmed, it was easy for me to book the flight to Geneva….or so I thought.
You see, I had told Peter that I would want to fly the same flight and stay the same hotel as him as it would be a hassle for me to run around just to meet up. As luck would have it, the hotel was fully booked. I guess every year it’s the same for the whole area. So I made reservations with a hotel that is miles away!!.
For the flight, we had planned to stop over in London on the way in to do some shopping…..so the redemption for the flight was made. Everyone knows that for redemption ticket, you have to book early. Even the LHR to GVA is booked with LX. All set to go!!! Yeah!! Felt very excited!!
SWAY SWAY (unlucky in local context) in November the atomic bomb dropped!!! As Peter’s flight is done by Lange, they had put him on the SIN-ZRH sector! How?? Big dilemma!! Cancel my LHR and follow his flight or continue on my own to LHR. 2days alone in London do what!!
By then there is no more redemption for the flight to ZRH. What would you do ?? YES, you!! As mentioned before, I’m so lazy that I want to be in the same flight and hotel so that I don’t have to run around trying to meet up. Paced up and down trying to decide what to do. Can’t eat, cant sleep….worse than getting married! Don’t laugh!!
So I bought a ticket to Zurich.
Now we are all ready for the 19th of Jan 2014!
Did I mention that I don’t really sleep on flight…..and so we landed in ZRH and feeling a bit stoned out and took another flight to GVA. The different time zone didn’t help either.
Reached GVA in mid morning….the zombie in me told my body to lie down and just sleep…everything was just a blur as Peter lead me to the train station to catch a train to our hotel. (NB: tickets for train is free and taken from a dispenser BEFORE you get out of the arrival. Only found this out aboutt a month later during our usual beer session…see , told you I stoned out )
Luckily I was staying in the same hotel (Hotel Cornavin) as Peter, I staggered from the train station to the hotel, all of the 5 mins walk. Imagine if I had to look for my own hotel in the state I’m in !!
This was almost lunch. So upon check in Peter told me we were meeting some friends for lunch and that we should shower and come down. I was like “are u mad!” “can I sleep for 3 days and have lunch after”….arghhh! Drag myself and my luggage up, took a shower, change and came down. The shower did help a bit.
Our lunch companion was none other than Ms Suzanne Wong from Revolution….a very nice surprise indeed. And I was told that there is someone else that will come to meet us later. Restaurant was 5 mins walk away. Ordered and chit chat. This gentleman came and was introduced to me as Anish… really a nice meet up. This was Anish Blatt of WatchAnish fame.
Sadly, just as lunch started, I was feeling nausea. Guess I drained all my adrenaline getting in. I excused my self and went back to the hotel to rest. Our next meet up would be for dinner. Dinner was uneventful but on the way back I made my way to a local pub for my dose of whiskey. Maybe that would put my body back to normal. The pub was right in front of the hotel…. 2 mins walk. So as you can see, this hotel is really right smack there within all our activities. Maybe the reason why its blocked one year in advance.
Woke up next morning feeling no different….sigh. Every morning we would leave the hotel around 0830h. And arrive back around 1am! Richemont throws a party on a boat called L After Dinner, and if we left the party early we’d be back at the hotel at 1.
So day 1 started with a meeting with an independent watchmaker and thereafter to the fair itself. The place was so huge. Went thru the mandatory security checks and registered ourselves.
I literally just followed Peter thru the maze of exhibitors and arrive at the Lange booth. They had all the watches showcased in one area and a resting area with sofas and a bar counter with German beer on tap! We spend most of our free time there but sadly I can count on one hand the number of beers I had there.
Lunch was being served then so we sat down at tables that were laid out in the middle throughout the corridors of the halls. Ordered a soup and a main….and my 1st beer! This idiot later realized (2nd day) that you could have ordered the whole menu if you can stomach all of it! Btw, all food and drinks there are free. Sadly the beer tasted funny as my body is still running at 70%.
After lunch, tummy started acting up. As we had another appt, I didn’t pay much attention to it……big mistake! During the appt, my tummy got worse so I excused myself and went to quickly hunt for the nearest toilet. AND the nightmare started.
I couldn’t see any signage so I asked one of the catering staff. It was; go straight, turn left, go straight and on the right you see blah blah. Thanked him and quickly walked to the said direction. After what seem like hours of agony walking, I still couldn’t find the toilet! Felt like I’m gonna poo in my pants.! Grab the nearest staff and beg for the toilet. Ahh…he pointed to the next corridor. Looks like relief was just 5 steps away. My pace became faster and as I passed the corridor I saw the toilet sign. (those that have been there would be laughing now). Immediately when I pass by the corner, I was shocked to see stairs going down. Literally ran down the stairs! After the 2nd flight, I was like “what the ..…” ….and the stairs went on and on for like eternity! I nearly fainted….no joke! The term “shit in your pants” nearly came thru for me !
When I met up with Peter again, he asked me if I was ok cos I looked pale(according to him). I had no words to answer of what I just went thru. Remember folks, know and locate the toilets BEFORE you need them! And for those smokers; a quick puff will set you back at least half hr
And so the next 3 days we visited the brands and some of them have very nice watches….. most of them you guys would have seen by now. And all the time, my engine was only at 70%. But I manage to remember to buy the Swatch Sistem 51 upon departure, which will only be launch later in Singapore and which I wrote a review of my take on the watch.
All words and photographs by Joe Koh.