1. I personally believe that 2016 will be a challenging one and another difficult year for the Swiss watchmaking industry. Among many other factors, there has been an overproduction of watch products in the face of lower demand. But this decline in demand is due to a number of other reasons — the discontinuation of the minimum exchange rate by the BNS, the anti-corruption campaign in China, the fall in the price of the barrel, and Russian customers who aren’t setting foot outside Russia. Usually, we face one problem at a time and can compensate for them in other markets, but in this case all these factors have arrived more or less simultaneously, which is exceptional. Although I’m not an expert, prospects for 2016 are not looking good.
2. Our objectives for Rebellion Timepieces in 2016 are relatively simple. We have to build up our network of distributors, and that is our principal, priority objective. Besides that, we’re going to continue taking part in trade shows to increase recognition of our brand. Rebellion needs to lean on the reputation of our Rebellion Racing team, which was FIA World Endurance champion for the fourth consecutive year.
3. The watchmaking industry certainly is not going to disappear, but on the other hand it’s sure to get “hybridised” just as we’ve seen in the automotive industry, and that is without any doubt an interesting opportunity for diversification. But I have no doubts whatsoever as to the lasting nature of mechanical watches.
4. Baselworld 2016 is a must for lovers of fine horology and incontestably the best showcase for a horology brand. Obviously, the objective is to develop commercial relations with future clients, whether retailers or agencies.
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?