1. In 2015, the sharp appreciation of the Swiss franc dealt a blow to the global horology market. However, Japanese watch makers posted strong results as our watches were seen in a positive light in terms of price/performance, as their prices were not as high as those of Swiss watches. In addition, Japanese watchmakers benefited from strong demand due to the increasing number of visitors to Japan. As to whether we’ll see a recovery among Swiss watchmakers in 2016, I can’t say until I see what happens at Baselworld this year. If smartwatches develop into a solid trend in 2016, the market might expand again.
2. In 2016, we’ll be putting more energy into expanding our products for high-end distribution channels. This year, we’re proud to be exhibiting in Hall 1.1 at Baselworld, showcasing watches such as the MR-G and MT-G Series from our leading G-SHOCK brand. With these watches, Casio is pursuing a manufacturing paradigm aimed at delivering high added value in ways that only Casio can. We’ve already been developing high-end distribution channels in Japan, so we’re looking to markets outside of Japan for growth. We’ll do more to promote the superb quality of our ‘Made in Yamagata’ products. In terms of technical development, we will continue to pursue the Global Time Sync concept, developing watches that deliver accurate time anywhere.
3. Mechanical watches have their own traditional appeal. I don’t think mechanical watches will easily disappear. As long as the engineering is properly handed down, I think mechanical watchmaking will remain. I have long said that smartwatches fulfil different needs than watches and that the two can coexist. Casio’s smartwatch has been developed by a different division from our watch division, and we think that they can coexist. With the advent of mobile devices, it was feared that young people would stop using watches, but the emergence of something new like smartwatches creates interest in wrist-worn devices. In that sense, we expect smartwatches to invigorate the entire watch industry.
4. Baselworld is an important exhibition for Casio. There was a time when we didn’t exhibit at Baselworld, but we returned eight years ago and have been here ever since. This year, we’re proud to be exhibiting in Hall 1.1. At Baselworld, we want to get the message across that we’re much more than an assembler of watches—that we manufacture our own movements and make watches that offer an array of cutting-edge technology, which have an air of sophistication and high added value. Since we returned to Baselworld, the number of visitors to our booth has increased every year. We see Baselworld as a successful showcase for Casio.
EUROPA STAR’S FOUR QUESTIONS
1. What are your predictions for 2016? Do you think that exports will recover, or will the markets stagnate or continue to decline after the slump we saw in 2015? And what do you think were the reasons for the downturn in 2015?
2. What are your priorities for the coming year: consolidating your existing markets, actively exploring new markets (if so, which), rationalising / consolidating / expanding your distribution network, launching new products, PR initiatives, etc.?
3. Over the longer term, do you believe that mechanical watchmaking will gradually die out, hybridise, or continue to occupy its own exclusive niche? Do you see the advent of smartwatches as a potential threat, or an opportunity for growth and diversification?
4. What exactly do you hope to achieve from your participation in Baselworld 2016? Do you feel your presence at the fair is essential to your business, or are such forums less important now than they were in the past?