1. Looking back at 2015, we saw the China anti-corruption policy and a change in the Swiss currency, while terrorist attacks in Europe also put a damper on things. Those trends are set to stay and have a continuing impact. But markets usually adjust to such events, and given that the global economy seems to be experiencing a slightly upward trend—we could see a return to better export market conditions by the end of 2016.
2. We’re looking at multiple key priorities, but our focus has been on evolving the number of collections from 1 to 2 and restructuring our distribution network after taking over the company in the end of 2014. Given the many hand-crafted parts our production is very limited and we want to partner closely with the few select retailers who remain independent and able to support a brand like ours. Lastly, we’re moving into a new atelier, as the expansion and recruitment currently under way are incompatible with our current location.
3. Mechanical watchmaking is undergoing a paradigm shift from which there is no escape. High-end, atelier-made mechanical watches will never lose their attractiveness and collector value. It’s rather like an original oil painting versus a printed poster. However, smartwatches will effectively wipe out the value offered by a lower-end mechanical timepiece and that value will never be regained. A lot of industry restructuring will be called for in certain places, and some brands here are losing value by the hour. Coming from outside the industry this is clear to me, and having set in motion such value-erasing changes while at Nokia— and also experienced it happening—I see the usual pattern of many veteran industry insiders having the challenging task of trying to cope with analysing the situation and making the necessary adjustments. For quite basic reasons there are no possibilities for growth or diversification—but that’s a longer topic.
4. We see great benefits in participating in Baselworld, providing the fair can keep its value as a venue also for smaller independent brands, and not just the conglomerates, where once a year all their customers converge and place orders. As a small independent brand we’re also seeing the smaller fairs like QP in London evolve and take on a life of their own. For us, all these events are great places for meeting retail clients and presenting a full picture of what we have to offer. It’s a great, global showcase.
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?