Opening today in Geneva is the International Salon of Luxury Watchmaking, which aims to manage a "transition" for a sector that has been going through tough times for the past year and a half. The 27th edition is marked by a return to "core values" and - for the first time - its opening to the public.
"We have had more promising years," said Fabienne Lupo, president of the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH), who organizes the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie, or SIHH, every year in Geneva.
For 17 consecutive months, the watchmaking sector registered a decline in exports. According to Lupo, the overall figures for 2016 could translate into a decline of 10% down to CHF19.5 billion. This is far from the record of 2014 (CHF22.2 billion) and 2015 (CHF21.5 billion)."We are returning to a demand for more simple and accessible horological products," explains the president of the FHH. It's a trend already seen last year, favoring mid-range products. This is also reflected in the collections that will be presented at the show and confirm a return to "core values," says Lupo.
It should also be kept in mind that the SIHH opens two weeks after the entry into force of certain measures to strengthen the Swiss-made brand. These measures pleased the president of the FHH: "Everything that tends to value Made-in-Switzerland is a good thing for luxury watchmaking".
For the first time in its history, the SIHH, which is a professional event, will open its doors to the public this year, even if only for a day. Between 2,000 and 3,000 customers and those who are merely curious will be able to closely observe new trends in luxury watches. Though it could lead to more demand, the aim is not to transform the salon into a "trade fair". The SIHH wants to maintain a certain exclusivity.
Translation from Italian by Marc-André Miserez, swissinfo.ch and agencies