1. At this moment in time the international scene is extremely complex due to various macro-economic problems occurring throughout different world regions. Citing only the major negative and sometimes dramatic events that have marked 2015, we have to consider the state of war that exists in part of the Middle East, the collapse in oil prices, the financial crisis in China and the international terrorist threat. These are all events that have a huge economic and social impact which certainly influences international consumer trends particularly within our price range. I’m not of the opinion therefore, that a drop in exports is due to a specific problem within Swiss high quality watchmaking, but more to highly worrying external elements. When the international community is able to come up with a positive solution to these current serious difficulties, I’m convinced that we’ll see a quick recovery within our sector, which, don’t forget, is a matter of growing interest for consumers throughout the world, even in areas where these products are relatively new.
2. Even though Eberhard & Co. as a brand has a tendency to create products with a reputation for durability, we also have innovative genes in our DNA. It’s because of this that we continue to conduct research and are constantly developing new products – 2016 won’t be any exception. At this moment, we’re working on a new model for which we have high hopes because within it, it contains a page of our history. As far as product distribution is concerned, we’re carefully exploring new markets based upon our own production levels which don’t always allow us to have a presence in all markets. Europe, despite its current problems, will always be an important market for Eberhard & Co. That said, over the years brand distribution has greatly improved and there will also be further developments in 2016. Being a totally independent brand, Eberhard & Co. try to select partners who share the same independent professional values.
3. Don’t forget that the Swiss watchmaking industry survived the “quartz crisis” which, at the time had a revolutionary cultural impact and looking more closely is easily comparable to current developments. The two products are quite independent, therefore the drive to buy is based upon completely different motives and desires. We feel therefore that whereas smart-watches will continue to grow and spread, they will find a place to peacefully co-exist with traditional watches. The possibility of collaboration between the two isn’t to be excluded. What’s interesting though, is the possibility of developing new products containing both.
4. All the big international trade fairs are regularly disputed. Encourage change at all cost, that’s part of the game. The reality as far as Baselworld is concerned, is that there is always a very great number of international players participating and to such an extent that this cannot be lightly ignored. The same applies to the presence of industrial concerns, each year in greater number and at a very high level. Even although it would be desirable to pay more attention to controlling the currently extremely high participation costs, I believe that Baselworld is an unmissable event for all the brands, including Eberhard & Co. In our world, tradition always plays a decisive role.
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?