1. The demand “crisis” in China combined with the anti-corruption legislation goes back to late 2012, yet no significant downturn in exports was observed in 2013 and 2014. So, faced with the natural decline in sales volumes, the big names were probably forced to maintain their export volumes in one way or another… The change in the exchange rate in January 2015 was an opportunity for the markets to “correct” their stock volumes. This corrective action offsets a level of stock that corresponds to several years of sales above current volumes. Consequently, it’s a mathematical probability that it will continue into 2016 and perhaps even into 2017… but in a less marked fashion. Even so, there are no signs that watch-lovers have turned to another passion …. So rather than a crisis we ought rather to talk in terms of a bubble bursting. Someone really passionate about watches buys in a more thoughtful way. We’re not talking about spur-of-the-moment, impulse buying here.
2. 2015 marked Czapek’s return to the watchmaking scene. 2016 will mark our arrival on the markets with our first collection: Quai des Bergues. We’ll be selling it mostly through partner retailers. We made our debut with Chronopassion in Paris and are hoping for the same response from all connoisseurs of haute horlogerie, whether in Europe, the Middle East, the Americas or Asia. For Czapek’s launch, we opted to position ourselves in a reasonable or relatively low price segment for steel to give as many aficionados as possible the chance to be a part of our adventure by owning one of our timepieces. In terms of communications, it’s the very notion of sharing this passion that is the principal driver. A pure, unique, almost fragile aestheticism is expressed in our watches; on the wrist they bear witness to the owner’s sensitivity to beauty, the poetry of time … So on paper our quest is simple: to familiarise watch-lovers with Czapek and give them the chance to acquire one of these first-edition models, which are justly baptised “Renaissance”…
3. As an opportunity, of course! Once again, it’s all a question of the law of numbers: with their ageing populations developed countries aren’t the principal market for smartwatches and haven’t been for a long time, it’s probably the BRICs and Middle Eastern countries, where the population is considerably younger. The early 2000s were marked by a move away from watches by young people, who preferred reading the time straight from the screen of their smartphones. The arrival of smartwatches is an opportunity to put watches back on the wrists of all those young people out there while waiting for the spell of time to work and mechanical timekeeping to regain its lost territory... Which will happen, because the relationship of people to time is incredibly powerful, rather as if it were a determining factor of the human condition.
4. Baselworld is a must for Czapek and it’s going to be a baptism by fire. This first-time participation is a key milestone in our development, because we deeply believe in the complementarity of the middlemen and of the distribution networks. Baselworld is an opportunity to meet several tens of professionals with expert knowledge of their market and establish lasting relations with a view to developing business together. Multi-brand boutiques have a fine future before them, with all the choice and expertise peculiar to them. Lastly, it’s also a very important opportunity to meet the press and a unique chance to talk with other horology aficionados.
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?