1. In my view 2016 is likely to be a difficult year for watch exports. The numerous geopolitical and economic phenomena (oil prices, stock market volatility, growth in China, the level of the ruble, various wars, etc.) which we’ve been faced with for many months are unfortunately not going to disappear in the near future and restore the confidence of customers geared to high-end products.
2. At the moment, we’re experiencing the “renaissance” of the Schwarz Etienne brand. The task of closing and upgrading our points of sale was completed less than two years ago. So, we’re relaunching the brand on a whole new basis: manufacture movements that are developed and produced in-house; complete command of our product ranges (via E2O innovations); more contemporary designs and a product environment that sets us apart from our competitors. Since we have only a very limited international presence, we are of course looking to tap into new markets that are mature enough to accept the philosophy and high level of our products. I must say I’m pretty confident about this, especially given the attractiveness of our new collections for the major horology players we’ve met since the beginning of the year.
3. I really don’t believe that our industry and know-how are going to disappear simply because of the arrival of new technologies. Our industry is an unstoppable vector of luxury and it will be around for as long as people have to express their differences. On the other hand, I think that intelligent “hybridisation” (unlike running after a train that’s already arrived at the following station) could help us evolve. But I remain convinced that tradition and fine craftsmanship will always be the baseline of genuine luxury products. So smartwatches are both a danger, a diversification and an opportunity, depending on which level of products you’re talking about.
4. What we’re expecting of Baselworld is visibility, plenty of press coverage and countless customers, just like everyone, I think. As things currently stand we’re of course taking advantage of the momentum which is bringing the great majority of influential players to the same place. At the moment, whether it’s, Basel, Geneva or anywhere else, it makes little difference to us. By the way, we’re in Hall 2, Booth B61! Welcome to everyone who’s reading and wants to discover our three ranges of manufacture watches and have an Oculus experience that’s something else!
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?