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Swatch Serious crisis threatens Swiss watchmakers

The Swiss watchmaking industry could face a serious crisis, but there is also hope

(Keystone)

The Swiss watchmaking industry has missed a crucial opportunity to enter the market for smart watches, according to Grégory Pons, a French expert in luxury markets.

In an interview with swissinfo.ch, Pons said the situation for Swiss watches was more dire than industry leaders were willing to admit, particularly for watches at the lower end of the price range.

“Brands like Swatch, Tissot and even Longines have come under great pressure from smart watch products, despite previous assurances that they had nothing to fear,” he said.

According to Pons, the watchmaking industry wasted money with exorbitant marketing budgets, useless products, and glamorous production facilities.

At the same time, the industry recklessly neglected investing in professional training and research and development, he added.

However, Pons sees business opportunities for the Swiss matchmakers if they stay creative and carve out a niche market for themselves.

“Compared with other countries, Switzerland has 400 years of experience, unique industry facilities and a dense network of small watchmaking companies and suppliers who have been doing a very good job,” he said.

Read the full interview in French hereexternal link

Swatch hits low

On Friday, the Swatch Group, the maker of Omega and Tissot timepieces, said first-half profits had fallen by about 50% to 60% due to weak demand in Asia and Europe and the strength of the Swiss franc.

First-half sales are estimated to have declined about 12%, the company said in a statement. And costs are increasing, as Swatch has decided to keep employees despite the slump.

In reaction to the news, shares of Swatch, the world’s biggest watchmaker, reached their lowest level since 2009, dropping 13% at the start of stock market trading on Friday. They recovered slightly later in the day.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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