Journe Montres SA

About a week after sending out my letter of introduction to CEO Francois-Paul Journe of Montres Journe I receive the following email:

Dear Mister Wolfsfeld:
We thank you for your interest in the company MONTRES JOURNE S.A.
Your tour by bicycle around the world to visit divers companies seems to be very exiting.
MONTRES JOURNE SA is however a small company with a very small structure (around 30 people) and we are unfortunately not yet ready for guided tours in the workshops. The watchmakers will also be on holidays for the period July, the 28th to August the 15th, 2003.

Masaki SAITO


I assume the spelling errors were the result of the writer being in a hurry composing the email and meant to say "Your tour by bicycle around the world to visit different companies seems to be exciting". Since no job title was given I didn't know if Masaki Saito was somebody in management, a secretary or even if Masaki was a he or a she. I then emailed the following reply:

Hi Masaki, I'm more interested in the head office than the workshop (I've now seen several dozen workshops). You're a well-known watch name and it would be great to have you included. Having been doing this for 17 years I have quite a following. I'll be in the Geneva area until the end of August so coming by later in the month would be no problem, Yours truly, Paul


The next day I receive the following answer:

Dear Mister Wolfsfeld,
Thank you for your mail of August, 3rd, 2003
We are sorry for not being available end of August. As we are having the opening event of our Boutique in Japan most of our management will be away in this time.
Thanking you for your comprehension we remain with best regards.
Masaki SAITO

I can handle the numerous mistakes in word usage and spelling (I think Masaki meant to say "Thanking you for your consideration") but I don't like the way I'm being giving the brush-off. In the one month time period given to them nobody could spare 15 minutes with me? Who is this Masaki Saito person and why am I being so brusquely dismissed? Hmm, sounds like I need to drop in on the company.

In my email reply when I said, "you're a well-known watch name" I wasn't being truthful. I had only heard of Montres Journe due to the company continually running a small ad in the International Herald Tribune newspaper here in Europe.

I show up at Journe's two-story building in mid-afternoon. It's a long narrow structure and looks to have been built around the turn-of-the-century. Geneva's city center/lakefront lies about a mile away. The company's name is in big letters above the entrance. Walking in the door there's a stairway leading upstairs and when I reach the top a woman greets me. After explaining who I am, what I do and how I received emails from Masaki Saito saying the company had no time for me, I ask if Masaki is a man or a woman and what the title is of this person. It turns out Masaki is a man and he's the company's sales manager. Wow, I can't believe this guy is in charge of generating revenues for the company. I explain to this woman (she identifies herself as an administrative assistant) how this is the only watch company to decline meeting with me. The woman goes on to say how busy everyone is and if they had to take care of every media request they would never get any work done. "Oh please", I reply, "you should be happy the media is interested in doing stories on you". As we're talking three men pass by and stop a few feet away from me. One says, "goodbye Masaki". Turning around I see one of the gentleman is Asian and ask the woman I'm talking to if it's Masaki. "Yes", she answers. "Maybe he has time to see me?" I ask. "No, he's busy" she answers. Boy, she sure missed an opportunity to change things.

I'm given a booklet with background information and leave. Later, I read background material on the company and find out it's a newcomer, a four-year old watch concern making expensive complicated mechanical watches.

How did their sales manager with his fractured English end up with my letter? Does he think giving me the kiss-off will improve sales? Montres Journe is definitely in need of a public relations person. Skimming through the company booklet I come across a picture of company founder Francois-Paul Journe with his bicycle. I wonder if he's aware, or for that matter cares, how a fellow biker was treated? Will be interested to know if Montres Journe is around in five years.