My honourable compatriot Federico Fellini already chose a ship, the Gloria N, as the theatre of operations for his film, E la nave va [And The Ship Sails On], in which worlds collide and the Sublime is brought within our grasp in all its human incongruity. We too, for a number of years, found that a boat belonging to the Lake Geneva General Navigation Company offered a welcome after-hours escapade to guests at Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH), which takes place on Geneva’s shores at the beginning of each year. After all, what more appropriate gathering-place than a boat to while away the evening after the fair. Now the ship will sail during SIHH 2017 under different colours. Those of the French LVMH group and its watch brands. The captain: Jean-Claude Biver!
Is his presence at the helm really a surprise? This is, after all, a position to which he is accustomed and he has shown his skill at steering a course these past years. Indeed, we can but salute the talent with which he has guided the brands under his stewardship towards growth. A quality not to be sniffed at in the current climate. But let us come back to our ships and all those who sail in them. There can be no denying that in this regard, SIHH and its committee have shown themselves to be seasoned seafarers. And innovators.
Given the armada of watch Maisons casting anchor in Genevese waters for the duration of the Salon, one could almost conclude that it is “mission accomplished” beyond all expectations. We shall play fair before the competition, and praise the virtues of commerce and free enterprise. Yet the fact remains that by hosting his inaugural party on “his” boat on the same date and at the same time as the one for SIHH, Jean-Claude Biver demonstrates a singular lack of propriety for a captain, a quality he should value considering the importance he affords to “proper” craftsmanship. It would, however, seem that the former relates more to rhetoric and intention than unvarnished reality. So let the ship sail on, my dear Biver. Who knows? Perhaps Fellini’s rhinoceros will join the trip.