As a Barack Obama mic-dropping statement of finality, nothing resounds with greater clarity than pulling your 18 luxury watch brands — which collectively represent a massive source of revenue to Baselworld — out of the world’s biggest and oldest watch fair. And I, for one, stood up and applauded when Nick Hayek did precisely that as he saw a bloated, megalomaniacal organization — and, by extension, much of the entire town – plunder and pillage brands, retailers, distributors and journalists for decades. And the fact that Baselworld didn’t see the sky-high writing on the wall was simply astounding.
If I had found out that arguably the most powerful man in the Swiss watch industry, whose father was the savior of Swiss horology, was less than ecstatically happy with me, I wouldn’t be able to sleep. I would be up all night trying to think up solutions to seek his forgiveness. And if that same man had for years paid the exorbitant fees for 18 stands at my trade fair, making him my single biggest client, you’d better believe I would be outside his house washing and waxing his car, walking his dog and greeting him with an artisanal double macchiato and a home-baked scone every morning. I would figure out what I did wrong and make it right. And each day when I left and he still wasn’t happy, I would first punch myself in the face out of shame at my failure and then go home and start thinking all over again as to how to extricate myself from the dog house. Because Swatch Group contributed $50 million to Baselworld and the town’s economy each and every year.
But when Hayek voiced his dissatisfaction with Baselworld – a trade fair where you actually had to pay a premium to them to set up your own Wi-Fi because the connection they supplied was so bad — what did they do about it? A fat load of nothing. Upon announcing the departure, Hayek said this about the future of the trade show: “Accordingly, a different rhythm and a different approach is needed. In this new context, annual watch fairs, as they exist today, no longer make much sense. It is necessary that they reinvent themselves, responding appropriately to the current situation and demonstrating more dynamism and creativity. At the moment, the trade fairs are failing to do so.”
What is clear is that we are now in an intense period of evolution, where print media needs to be united with E-Commerce and communicate primarily through social media and the Web in order to remain relevant. That has clearly not been lost on me. Similarly, the trade show, as Hayek so aptly put it, needs to evolve and cater to the needs of the modern client. Without this evolution there can be no certainty of their future at all. For his courage, conviction, intelligence and badass-ness, Nick Hayek is our Revolutionary of the Year.