After several days of fun and excitement meeting up with the Loungers, the wonderful people at VC, attending SIHH and touring the maison and manufacture, it was soon time to go (I had to leave for Zurich from where I would attend the last day of Baselworld). Of course, aside from taking many photos, I also made sure that I got my hands on as many "souvenirs" as I could get.
All who attended the dinner were given an artsy paper weight (I hope that's what its supposed to be...) with the QdI as its theme. However, I also had a particular souvenir in mind and Radek was quick to convince me to go for it asap so that he could take photos for me to post. Well Radek, here they are (and a big thank you too)...
The morning after the dinner (before going to SIHH), Radek and I had a quick breakfast at the hotel (Radek did. I had the full course ) and rushed off to the Maison just a few steps away...(it was probably farther out but I swore I had wings on my feet)
I think most of you already have an idea of the "souvenir" I had in mind...
(Okay, the special effects aren't exactly up to ILM standards, but hey, I'm not working with a Star Wars budget here either)
We were welcomed by the friendly boutique staff...
I had mentioned my plans to Mr. Bernaz during the dinner and he told me to look for Mr. Salvatore Latrofa, the Directeur Boutique. I found out later from Mr. Torres (or was that Mr. Bernaz) that Mr. Latrofa had been with VC for more than 20 years (that's almost as old as I am)! Anyway, aside from having such a nice sounding name (Salvatore vs. Kazumi...), the guy is also blessed with dashing good looks! I'm glad I left the wife at home!
Aside from the boutique models, we were also shown the last LE Chronometre Royal they had at the maison. Radek was
all too glad to model it for us. I must admit the red 12 o'clock adds just the right amount of accent....Classic!
40mm mavens in rose gold...
I must admit, the Contemporaine self-winding was quite a looker. The date display at 6 o'clock (instead of the usual 3 o'clock position) was discrete and worked well, symmetry-wise. Being able to view the breathtaking movement from the back was almost too hard to resist... But, my mind was made up (and my budget too).
Since I already had the Jubilee (with a similar automatic movement and see-through caseback), I decided to go for the very slim and chic manual-winding model. Now it was time to haggle...
I visually harrassed Mr. Latrofa with my Beatles' mop-top haido (courtesy of the strong winds outside), and dropped all the names I could think of ("Mr. Bernaz told me to look for you..", "I'm meeting Charlie today..", "Alex, the godfather, says hi!").
After exchanging some thoughts about where each one of us could "shove it", we finally agreed on a price (Slick Italian vs. naive Japanese tourist...Guess who came out on top)
Same mop-top, but this time with a smirk of satisfaction... (thinking, "I sure showed him who's boss!")
An even bigger smile on Salvatore's face...(thinking, "There's one born every day!!")
As a token of appreciation (which goes to show he came out from the haggling unscathed), Mr. Latrofa threw in a pochette for the watch and, more importantly, a nice scarf (Hermes pour Vacheron Constantin) for the boss back home! My dear photographer even got a pair of his own too! (I should've haggled more)
(Got the teddy as a souvenir for my little daughter. It was the only positive thing that came out of my Heathrow experience)
Kazumi: So Salvatore, was I your first (buying) customer today?
Salvatore: Yes, but I am expecting a customer who will be looking at some complicated pieces this afternoon.
Kazumi: Well, you just managed to sell a simple piece to a complicated customer. You must be on a roll!
Salvatore: Haha, that's right. Uhmm..didn't you guys have to leave already?...
Needless to say Radek and I left in a very good mood. I had been hoping to get this watch since it came out, and I thought to myself, what better way to get a Contemporaine Boutique Edition than at the Geneva Flagship Boutique and from the boutique manager himself! I will never forget this fantastic experience.
Thanks to everyone at VC, Alex, and all the Loungers I met last week! Special thanks to Radek who, as you can see below,
really wanted to "shove it up someone's a_s" that morning. I'm glad they let us in...