Apologies for the length of this post but I wanted to share my experience.
I was in London today for my photography marathon. I was early so I popped by the Swatch boutique. There was a queue of around 15-20 people in front of me. There were also 10 or so people just hanging around by the door. So I started queuing. An elderly couple joined after me. We made polite conversation and they said they were visiting from out of town and were asked by their son to pick up a Swatch. ’Not the latest one, that you are all after’ - I asked them if they had a picture of it: it was a Moonswatch. I informed them that everyone in the queue was after the same thing - they could not believe it. It was then that the two guys in front of me also joined the conversation. One was on vacation from the Middle East and the other was a flipper. The flipper told us that he came at least 3 times a week to queue and said that 5 mins before opening, the group hanging around the door will just push in and be dismissive when spoken to. The tourist from the Middle East was a genuine watch enthusiast leaving that afternoon.
Wih 5 minutes to go, sure enough, the group started pushing into the queue to the dismay of everyone in the queue except the flipper. At this point 3 security guards came out and started asking everyone in the queue who were the ‘legitimates’ we pointed amongst ourselves and pointed out those who had pushed in. Security removed them from the queue and made them form a separate one about s foot away. More people arrived and started pushing and once again, security asked them to join the other queue. The was no aggravation, just bad manners and arrogant behaviour. The elderly couple at this point were getting very agitated and left the queue.
The boutique was due to open at 10am, it was now 10:15 and no one had gone in. At this point, a security guard escorted a group of 5 people from the back of the queue into the shop. We were told after that they had had a bad experience the day before and were told to come back.
Our little group said that we understood that and that was the correct way to treat customers and Thanked the Security guards for sorting out the queue issue. They had also overheard myself and the Vacation guy talking about our interest in watches in general. 5 minutes, later, we were asked by security to enter the boutique (we were not at the front of the queue - about 5 back from the front).
We didn’t ask why. When we were inside, we were told that it was one watch per customer and that only, Jupiter, Earth and Saturn were available. Jupiter was on my wishlist and Saturn was top on the Vacation guy’s list. We both made our purchases and said we could not believe how all this had played out. When we spoke to the sales assistant inside, they said that they do want to try to give everyone a fair chance of purchasing a Moonswatch and not just the flippers who turn up everyday. I asked the assistant to pass our regards to the security team who did a sterling job of crowd control. Never once letting things get really out of hand. According to our flipper friend, that was the first day that they had employed such measures.
The things I saw and described, I know are true. What others said and implied, I cannot be certain of. Make up your own minds on what you want to believe.
So that’s how I got a Moonswatch (that I’m keeping!)