Thierry Stern’s opinion on customer service in China

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February 2013

During the inauguration of the Maison Patek Philippe last November in Shanghai, Thierry Stern, the CEO of the prestigious Swiss brand, publicly expressed his opinion on after-sales service in China.

“In the luxury industry in China, notably for watches, there are enormous numbers of complaints, for three reasons. The first is that the brands do not pay enough attention to after-sales service. If they did, it would mean a huge cost. They do not want to invest or get involved.

The second reason is that it takes a lot of time to repair a watch and Chinese clients generally have no patience. As for the third reason, this relates directly to the watch industry, which suffers from a lack of qualified watchmakers. The problem is already apparent in Europe, but in China, it is extremely difficult to find experienced employees.

This is why Patek Philippe decided to create two centres for after-sales service, with a team of 20 people in Shanghai and 20 to 25 in Beijing. It represents a colossal, but necessary, investment. In addition, we are creating a training centre for watchmakers in Shanghai, taught by experienced watchmakers from Geneva. This is how we can maintain the same level of after-sales service abroad as we have in Switzerland.”

Thierry Stern's opinion on customer service in China

Will the after-sales service situation improve in China? “That is difficult to say, since the brands are not facing up to this reality.

On the other hand, Patek Philippe is a family brand that wants to preserve its generations-old reputation. It is our priority mission. With this in mind, after-sales service is capital in our eyes. I might add that, today, nearly all the brands repair only watches that are less than 30 years old. Beyond that, it has become impossible.

At Patek Philippe, we consider this policy unacceptable, which is why we have the capability of repairing all our models, irrespective of when they were made. It also explains the very high prices that our timepieces fetch at auction. This capability, however, requires an even larger investment.”

Source: Europa Star December - January 2012-13 Magazine Issue

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