Welcome to our shiny new website and to the first ever Antonio Diamond Boutique blog. Over the last few months, a lot of thought, energy and flair has gone into designing a functional, inspirational web experience for the discerning watch buyer and well, we think we got it right. And yet the launch of our new site comes at a time of game-changing challenges for the Swiss watch industry.
Firstly the recent news that the Swiss National Bank has ditched the longstanding cap on its exchange rate with the ailing Euro. Let us not kid ourselves – this will only have one effect and that is to raise prices across the board. Watch lovers can expect price hikes of between 7% to 11% in the coming weeks and these will affect all Swiss production, from Swatch to Tissot to TAG Heuer to Rolex to Patek Philippe. Add to this an increasingly less valuable Euro and the price increases in the Eurozone will be felt even more. It is no wonder that nobody was smiling when Swatchgroup CEO Nick Hayek called it a “tsunami” for the Swiss watch industry.
The next challenge for Swiss Haute Horlogerie is the popularization and globalization of the Smart Watch. A lot of hype has been created around the soon-to-be-launched iWatch from Apple Computer and Samsung is already marketing the prodigious Gear 2.0 to critical acclaim. Love them or hate them, the Smart Watch is here to stay and the battle lines are now being drawn in the sand. On the one hand we have super-smart software in a tiny package that effortlessly provides wrist connectivity to your existing household devices, audio and video recording and notifications, not to mention access to your music library, e-mails and an ever-increasing arsenal of downloadable apps. On the other hand, the romance and appeal of a mechanical perpetual calendar, the covetous nature of a hand-wound spherical tourbillion or the horological timelessness of a minute repeater movement. It was Al McGuire who said “When a guy takes off his coat, he’s not going to fight. When a guy takes off his wristwatch, watch out!” Yes, we live in very interesting times.
The third challenge facing the industry is the growing threat from the Chinese watch industry. As the Economist magazine recently stated, “Swiss-made” has become one of the world’s most valuable brands. Is it any wonder then that large Chinese corporations like Haidian Ltd, which distributes the Citizen and Casio brands in China, have arrived on the scene armed with a seemingly endless amount of cash available for Swiss brand acquisition and have made no bones about their intention to create a portfolio of Swiss maisons. Stalwarts like Corum, Eterna and recently Rotary, are already Chinese-owned and the onslaught shows no sign of abating.
There can be no doubt that 2015 promises to be an eventful year for an industry whose humble origins stretch back to the 1700’s but whose future, by all accounts, is brighter than it has ever been before.
Suresh Mahtani, The Antonio Diamond Boutique, Gibraltar