Gregory Pons is one of the most well known journalists in the Swiss watch industry, his news letter the Business Montre & Joaillerie is subscribed to and read by virtually the entire french speaking industry. His directness does not always make him popular but no one can deny the depth of his knowledge and understanding of the industry of watchmaking. 


1. What did your father do? what did your mother do?  Describe briefly your childhood.

I come from a family of French soldiers, who served for a long time in the colonies of the former French Empire (mainly in Africa), with a regional cradle in Gascony where my ancestors - artisans, peasants, squires and poets Gascons - inhabit the cemeteries of the confines of Bigorre, Béarn and Armagnac for at least five centuries. Perhaps more, but the Religious wars and the Hundred Year War destroyed all the archives that had escaped with the English plundering the rest when they abandoned Aquitaine. In our family, always between assignments, women do not work and they educate children. I was brought up in a postcard Senegal, by a Bambara boy called Coulibaly, with the sun, the beach, my local buddies, mango trees, banana trees, the baobabs: suddenly I feel more Senegalese than French. I have the same affectionate bond with Morocco, where another part of my childhood took place between Rabat and Meknès: my grandfather, my father and my brother were born there! In short, I am a chronic expatriate and a permanent exile ...

2. As a child did you have any driving ambition? What did you want to be?

I have always dreamed of and I still dream of becoming an archaeologist, which denotes a very long-standing relationship with time. I see myself one day returning to this first historical love, where I discover an unchanged passion for telling stories and giving meaning to the passing time - whether measured with watch movements or with remains exhumed with a brush and scalpel. As a child, the only invention I wanted to make was a time machine that would have allowed me to prevent the humiliation of Vercingetorix at Alesia, to free Jeanne d'Arc from her Rouen pile, to accompany Bonaparte as he crossed the bridge of Arcole and to serve in the Crapouillots with my great-grandfather, during the battle of Verdun, in 1917 ...

3. What is your first memory as a child ?

Memories from Dakar came later, but I was four or five years old when I got up at night in Morocco to slip out of my room and join the market of the neighboring village with its scent of roast sheep, Oil lamps, the pungent smell of spices, honey and mint, the scent of wool grease and leather, its multicolored tents, but also the smiles of the Chibanis who let me stroll around freely because they had noticed that my father was following me discreetly, at a distance, to see how I managed on this Moroccan night. It is impossible to forget these strong sensations, the colours and the aromas, when a European toddler with blond hair [ah yes, I have the photos] without fear and without concern sampled his first lesson of the freedom and the friendship between people ...

4. Have you ever had another profession? What did you do?

In addition to the military occupation (paratrooper) and before "doing" journalism, I have done many other jobs, mainly to finance my studies: unloading trucks of whiskey boxes in the warehouses of Bercy , in Paris ; Investigator for market research on Krema candy (with data entry on punched cards, long before personal computers); Night watchman at Banania; Conveyor of funds for the Post Office; Factory tile washer; Counseling in political communication or putting up posters during election campaigns ...

5. What made you choose to become a journalist?  Who have you worked for in the past?  What made you decide to go in the direction you have chosen.

I've always liked to write and that's pretty much the only thing I can do. What influenced me most and helped ripen me to my vocation [no other words] as a journalist is probably the reading of Paris-Match in the 1960s - the years of the Vietnam War, the mercenaries in Africa, hippie festivals in the United States, student protests in Europe. The other influence was reading Balzac's Comédie humaine, a passionate read: a shock for literature and vertigo for social truth at the time. When you tell your father who is an army officer that you want to become a journalist, it’s a hard pill to swallow: I had to manage on my own, my first article published when I was not eighteen and I was already haunting The editorial offices. Then, after a long detour by the 1st Regiment of paratroopers of marine infantry (motto: "Who dares wins"), it was time for further education Sciences-Po and journalism school, rue du Louvre. Then there were multiple editorial rebounds and, in the 1990s, the meeting with my friend Stephan Ciejka (the boss of La Revue des Montres), which prompted me to write my first articles on watches before propelling me to 100% in watchmaking journalism ...

6. What’s the worst job you’ve ever had to do?

Undoubtedly, the cleaning of the furnaces at the Facom equipment factory, in the Parisian suburbs: soot ten centimeters thick to scour under glazed roofs that were hundreds of square meters. All in the heat of summer, for weeks! A greasy dust that penetrated everything and proved to be shower resistant, exhausting eight-hour days, but a marvelous discovery of the working class and the French people in what is good and bad ...

7. What has been the hardest moment in your life and how did you overcome it?

My world fell apart when I discovered that my pronounced short-sightedness prevented me from joining what was not yet called the French "special forces", the only military unit that seemed to me worthy of the young motivated, intelligent and muscular man that I felt I was. No question of wearing glasses in the commandos! It was a whole way of life that was challenged by this news. I did not let it discourage me, I learned the optometric table used for the pre-selection test by heart (the letters to be spelled on the Monoyer scale, from MRT to lowercase to ZU in capital letters) and I was able to join the paratroopers, but with the knowledge that this would not be a lifelong career. So, I had to return to the educational benches of Sciences Po and the school of journalism, where my parachutist certificate was no longer much use to me ...

8. Who has had the strongest influence on you? What are your greatest inspirations?

At the age of fourteen, reading Balzac set me on fire and that fire still burns: I now collect the different editions of his complete works. Let’s add Alexandre Dumas and Jules Verne for narrative, in addition to Choderlos de Laclos for culture “Dangerous Liaisons”, Paul Morand for absolute elegance and the Antoine Blondin du “Singe en hiver” for dignity during despair. Then there is the personification of a personal ethic, with characters such as General de Gaulle (that of London more than that of the Elysee, whom I once saw in Dakar) and heroes such as Henry de Bournazel or Honore d'Estienne d'Orves as well as Colonel Jeanpierre of the 1st REP (died in combat in Algeria). For ideas, a little Proudhon for true anarchy and a little Thoreau for libertarianism, but still a lot of Homer because nothing has changed since the “Iliad” and the “Odyssey” (which I always reread in e-Book on my phone). One does not become a journalist without loving Gaston Leroux and without respecting Albert London, evening listening to the "old" war reporters in Indochina or Algeria tell stories of their campaigns in the bistrots sitting around with a copy of the Figaro - especially when I was much top late on the editorial front, arriving between the end of the Vietnam War and the first Gulf War...

9. What are you most proud of.  

No personal pride if I stick with the scale of my initial ambition (become a great war reporter), but a certain personal satisfaction if I judge myself in relation to my "fellow journalists" parrots and in relation to my first ethical commitments: Live from my writing, stay free and never accept the slightest chain around the neck. It seems to me that I managed to impose a certain idea of editorial independence and freedom of speech in the watchmaking world, coupled with an original coverage of the news which “Business Montres” testifies. It is not much and it has only a derisory value in the eyes of history, but it has value in my eyes and those of my faithful readers ...

10. What advice would you give to a 20 something someone thinking of taking a similar path as you?

A very French expression : " Bien faire et laisser braire ",  « Â« Do well and dread no shame” *. As the poet RenĂ© Char says: "Impose your luck, hold on to your happiness and go towards your risk. They will become accustomed to the look on your face. " I could never have launched “Business Montres” if I had to listen to the advice of some and the warnings of others ...

11. Name three things on your bucket list.

1) Try one day to find a watchmaker who honestly tells the truth ...

2) Try to understand how the feminine brain works and its infinite mysteries ...

3) Trying to write a good song (practically the only discipline of writing that I have not mastered).

12. Where do you think the industry is going to be in 10 years’ time?

There is only one certainty: the watch industry of 2027 will be nothing like it is today, its organization and its production, with its current configuration. Everything will have changed: protagonists, brands, watches, prices, marketing channels, customers, reasons to buy and everything else. An intuition: this industry will become polarized, with a landscape in the form of an hourglass. Polarization upwards, at high prices: one or two handfuls of major global brands, with some workshops of creators and craftsmen for the last collectors. Polarization down: a swarm of small hyper-creative but accessible, perennial, if not frankly ephemeral, brands that will often be connected, linked to fashion trends or tempted by design. The "mid-range" mainstream will have disappeared ...


You can learn more about Gregory Pons at www.businessmontres.com