Curd-Turd and the Best of All Cosmopolitans

 canton not Canton

canton not Canton

Why do watch enthusiasts know the names La-Chaux-de-Fonds, Schaffhausen, Le Brassus, Plan-les-Ouates? Why is the consistent Swiss watch industry message, maison after maison, ad after ad, that everything they do is local – i.e. design, sourcing, manufacturing, production, finissage aren't just Swiss, they are from such and such village, or such and such canton? 

The industry mythologizes the local. Heritage and tradition, it all reduces to local.

And before you are dazzled by the immaculate finishing, remember that part of enduring appeal of that watch is the association with non-cosmopolitan grittiness. It is the quaint image of the watchmaker toiling away at his workshop, squinting and suffering for his art. It is the hopelessly unscalable nature of the Swiss Alps, bucolic as they are, far from any port, a spaghetti of mountains and valleys.

It is as if watchmakers are imagined as medieval shepherds, lonely and dripping beauty on every improbable acre of isolated alpine meadow. Swiss watch companies are inherently "local," diligently manufacturing locally in Switzerland (or so they tell us) and marrying it with the delicate and relentless campaign of marketing Switzerland itself, and everything associated with that particular local. The most obviously wrong thing is to go straight to the most obvious thing. Is that haute horlogerie watch so appealing because it is just as posh in London as in New York, or is it because it is a bridge between locals, between many hard to connect, gritty locals?

I have a small thing in my upcoming book I refer to as "Curd-Turd", which is about keeping it gritty. It is faith that cosmopolitan will happen, that Chinese-Western will be at its greatest if it resists trying to iron out all its inconsistencies and warts so as to be equally presentable in any global fora. The opportunity as I see it and as I write about it is to be hyper global and hyper local. To be strong in your local communities while also connecting to people who share something in common with you, be it in other countries, be it in the cloud. The only criterion is: does it work? 

 Above: Stinky Tofu, not "Curd-Turd"

Above: Stinky Tofu, not "Curd-Turd"

One important aspect of bothness is having faith 2 "locals" will automatically generate a cosmopolitan. The Swiss watchmaker who can do hyper local Swiss finissage who knows his Omani Middle Eastern customers from his Emirati ones will make redundant any generalist-global-strategist types. Hers or his will be the *best* cosmopolitan, the one naturally spun out from 2 "locals."