1. The word we hear uttered the most at the present is “complicated” which doesn’t incite optimism! Lots of reasons can be put forward to explain this negative attitude: Chinese political policies, a strong Swiss franc, the worldwide economic crisis. Nonetheless sometimes we need to face up to other, often less obvious but well-hidden reasons which are equally worrying but are linked to the development of our industry and should be studied in depth. I’d like to reveal two that have importance to me:
- Where is the great “stockpile” that must exist to keep feeding the omnipresent grey market? The fact that within just a few days, you can have almost any watch, along with its authenticity certification, delivered to your door and, all at tens of percent discount with just a few clicks of a mouse, does not give hope for a tranquil future. How under these conditions can we hope to sell watches through the normal channels at a normal price?
- After twenty odd years of industrialisation, of aggressive marketing and financial manipulation of the watchmaking industry, it should be recognised that this has permitted unprecedented growth. It seems to me however, that it’s now time to lift our heads and rethink the “fundamentals”. Should we really not try to apply the “values” touted by marketing, by re-establishing humans at the centre of the creation process and above all production?
2. Not having direct access to the markets, I think that even more so than ever, Agenhor should be supplying its customers with high-end watchmaking products based upon permanent innovation, respect for the craft and products genuinely fabricated by skilled, qualified watchmakers.
3. Deep rooted tremors will probably be felt but I’m convinced that mechanical watch- making, treated properly, still has a brilliant future! The advent of quartz watches is in some senses, much more of a threat, since these watches could be easily be allowed to replace mechanical watches, they’re much more accurate, are of more convenient dimensions, don’t require rewinding and are generally less expensive. All these benefits have not yet been successful in replacing the mechanical watches which were to the contrary, the basis for our considerably rapid expansion! It’s the incredible mechanical complexity in miniature, mastered by men and not machines, that provides the true value that is still a world wonder. In a time of built-in obsolescence, the inheritable aspect provided by repairable mechanisms is more important than ever. I don’t like the term “smart-watch” because it’s more just a multi-functional object, possibly we need to talk more about a “connection strap”. Their future is surely considerable and will revolutionise many other fields, for example the use or even the existence of mobile phones. Paradoxically however, I think that the ephemeral aspect and “connected” will undoubtedly drive customers to be drawn once more to mechanical watches in the true meaning of the art!
4. Globally, these great gatherings, undeniably too numerous and too costly, are highly important. They stimulate creativity and put the enormous amount of work accomplished by the various brand manufacturers throughout the year under the spotlight. Not being a direct participant, it’s hard for me to respond relative to the direct commercial interest that brands might achieve.
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?