1. Whereas 2015 was a year of consolidation, I believe that 2016 will see recovery and gradual growth in some markets. Whereas Hong Kong has decreased, the business in China, a very important market for us, is still comparatively slow. In addition, Chinese tourists continue to travel to Europe and generate sales there.
2. In 2016, we are going to be busy in many areas: marketwise this means restructuring our existing markets such as Switzerland and Germany in order to make them more efficient, whilst opening up new ones such as the USA, or Africa. As to our pricing, we do not plan an increase in prices, but we have considered the challenges to be faced in 2016 when calculating the prices for this year’s new models. Our most important issue for 2016 is the launch of our Regulator concept, which means focusing on this iconic model which has always played a leading role in the Chronoswiss history. After having strongly supported the sports line Timemaster in recent years, 2016 sees a strengthened classic design line Sirius, and within it a whole collection of striking and innovative Regulator models, some of them being constructed with a “flying” dial. Our publicity and advertising efforts will also be complementing this concept.
3. No, I do not think the smart-watch is a threat. In my opinion, there will always be a certain group of people who are able to cherish the art of fine mechanical watchmaking. But the smart-watch could even help open up a new target group who were no longer used to wearing watches. Maybe they don’t want to wear a mechanical watch right now, but when they grow older, they may well change their minds.
4. For us, Baselworld is the most important fair. It is where the whole industry meets once a year, and it is an indicator as to what is happening in the world of watches. As always, we will be curious to see the reactions to our new models.
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?