Eberhard & Co.: “Today, it’s all about local events”

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August 2018

Eberhard & Co.: “Today, it's all about local events”

With 400 points of sale throughout the world and 16,000 watches produced per year, the Swiss watch house, with its mechanical, automotive Italian spirit, perfectly embodies the tribulations of a valiant independent brand. Very well established on the European markets, the house took a monumental decision this year: not to attend Baselworld, after several decades’ loyalty to the fair. We caught up with the brand’s director, Mario Peserico.

There has been a lot of talk about brands leaving Baselworld this year. You are one of them, despite also being one of the oldest exhibitors at the fair. Why did you leave?

Our participation there represents a significant investment – more than a million francs – that we can allocate for other purposes, in a local and well-targeted way, all year long. We coordinate local events on our key markets, including individual encounters with the press and retailers. We are free to organise our own agenda, for example by holding sessions on the theme “onlineoffline” for our retailers or by offering them training on social network communication. We also participate in local fairs such as CoutureTime in the United States. For example, over a two-day event in Italy, we received 68 Italian journalists, compared with just 38 last year during the entire Baselworld fair. But we do not see Baselworld evolving in terms of communication...

Mario Peserico Eberhard Brand's Director
Mario Peserico Eberhard Brand’s Director

Still, Baselworld is a global event, reaching far beyond the European markets. Can you compare on your own in terms of international impact, and particularly with Asian clientèles?

Indeed. Our very “European” profile offers an advantage from this point of view, compared to a brand with a lot of coverage in Asia. We just opened to China last May. In the last five years, we did not open any new markets or major points of sale. We have been in a consolidation phase. Now, in addition to China, we plan to take on Dubai. As for the Russian market, I think that everyone has lost hope in a way...

What is your strategy in terms of e-commerce?

We have no plans to open our own platform. We support those of our retailers. If one day we should open an e-commerce website, we will do so for countries where we are not yet present, such as South Korea.

Nuvolari Legend
Nuvolari Legend

Longines, which dominates your price segment, recently announced a partnership with the giant Chinese e-commerce platform Tmall. Are you thinking of doing the same?

In our view, establishments such as Alibaba and Tmall are a too-easy source of fakes and a vehicle for the grey market... The same goes for Amazon.

Vintage style is cropping up everywhere. As a historically mechanical brand with ties to the automotive industry and relatively retro watch codes, are you surfing the wave?

I think that it is important to be conscious of where you come from and take inspiration from it. However, you must be careful not to get caught up in looking back. While we have always maintained the historical image of some of our designs, we have concentrated our work on technical and aesthetic development – of which the Chrono 4 is an example – since this is an essential component of the attraction of watches for today’s consumers. Since the wind can easily change... We are not the only Swiss brand with a long tradition!

The drop in tourism has strongly affected your key markets in Europe over the last three years. How is 2018 taking shape?

In today’s market, nothing is all black or all white. It changes direction from month to month and even from day to day. For example, in Italy, we finished 2017 on a very positive note, but got off to a very bad start in 2018 on the same market, even though we are outperforming the average Swiss watchmaker in terms of exports to Italy. Spain is also suffering. On the other hand, we are registering interesting developments in Japan, Germany and even the United States, where the situation had appeared a bit stagnant up until now. For us, 2018 is a test year, a turning point.