NYT: Swiss Watches Amid The Crisis

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NYT: Swiss Watches Amid The Crisis

Post by TemerityB » May 16th 2020, 2:08pm

This is a couple of weeks old, so what the hey:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/30/fash ... rland.html

As Switzerland began to relax its Covid-19 restrictions this week, some of the watch industry’s biggest names, including Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe and Ulysse Nardin, were poised to reopen their factories, many of which have been closed since mid-March.

But what kind of market will the industry be rejoining? And will it generate enough sales to maintain the thousands of brand employees and the ancillary businesses connected to watches?

Like most of the questions surrounding the Covid-19 catastrophe, only time will tell.

Global demand for most retail goods has plummeted as consumers are slowly emerging from — or, in many cases, are still under — stay-at-home orders. So the six-week pause in manufacturing actually became a saving grace for many watchmakers now focused on cutting costs and preserving cash.

“At the end of February we were up 12 percent, and now we’re at minus 8 percent year-over-year,” Edouard Meylan, chief executive of the independent Swiss brand H. Moser & Cie, said during a recent interview. “If we are very lean and efficient, this won’t cost us much provided it lasts less than three to four months. It’s going to be a few hundred thousand francs, but not the end of the world. If we’re looking at six months or more of disruption, it could cost a lot more.”

The luxury watch business has been in a steep decline since February, when coronavirus lockdowns were imposed in China. In March, Swiss watch exports dropped 21.9 percent over all by value compared with the previous year, with the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry saying there would be “a probable deterioration in April.”

And the decline was even worse — 41.3 percent — in Hong Kong, which was Switzerland’s No. 1 destination for watch exports in 2019 despite the months of pro-democracy protests that roiled the city.

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