“Fake watches are for fake people!” says the slogan of the new anti-counterfeiting campaign, launched at the SIHH 2009 by the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH), in partnership with the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry (FH). Speaking at the launch, Jean-Daniel Pasche, Chairman of the FH, observed that “while many watch companies have long been involved in the ongoing battle against counterfeiting, the problem remains and is even growing. The objective of this campaign, which must allow customers to retain complete faith in the authentic product, is essential. Let us not forget that companies’ reputations are at stake. Reputations that have already been seriously undermined by the existence of counterfeiting networks.”
The Chairman of the FHH, Franco Cologni, was at pains to point out that while the crisis is now a reality for Swiss watch firms, the same cannot be said for counterfeiters: “Specialists in counterfeiting are revelling in the current situation, as for them it is clearly synonymous with profit. Customers whose purses have been hit by today’s economic climate, but who still want to be seen with a prestigious watch on their wrist, will inevitably fall back on fakes. In Italy, a recent survey in the luxury segment showed that this is an expanding market. In other words, counterfeiting is gaining ground, and in no way feels threatened by repressive measures which are nothing but a drop in the ocean. Our role is therefore to target the real counterfeiter: the unscrupulous customer who buys a fake watch. This is how we intend tackling this problem via this international campaign.”
Buying fakes has serious consequences
“End customers must realise the consequences of their acts when buying a fake watch,” continued Jean-Daniel Pasche. Consequences which affect companies as much as countries. The counterfeit market clearly undermines watchmakers’ capacity for innovation, their reputation and sales, not forgetting the cost of fighting piracy in all its forms, and of protecting the intellectual property rights for their products. At national level, governments are forced to spend more and more heavily on measures to eradicate counterfeiting. However, these amounts pale in comparison with the astronomical profits made by the mafias, criminal organisations and terrorist groups that reign over the counterfeiting trade.
As the FHH reminds us, calculations based on customs seizures show that counterfeits and piracy worldwide amount to US$ 200 billion to 360 billion a year, or 5% to 7% of international trade. Swiss watches are no exception, as the sector is hit full-on. The FH estimates that over 40 million fake Swiss watches are made each year, compared with exports of 26 million authentic Swiss watches, and that they generate profits of around US$1 billion, the equivalent of some 6% of total annual Swiss watch exports. In this context, says the FHH, it would be naïve to imagine that counterfeiting can be defeated simply by targeting the counterfeiters and their means of production. The end customer must wake up to the facts: “Fake watches are for fake people!” The message is clear…