A very good start to the year for Swiss watchmaking
The year began well for Swiss watch exports, which have not yet been affected by the coronavirus epidemic in China. In January, Switzerland exported the equivalent of 1.8 billion francs, which represents a 9.4% increase compared with 2019. The number of items, however, still continues on a downward trend, despite a clearly favourable base effect. Watches priced at over 500 francs (export price) grew strongly in January, both by value and the number of items. Below this threshold, the trend remained negative, particularly for watches priced at under 200 francs. Most markets maintained a steady pace during the first month of the year, including the United States (+15.2%), China (+6.9%), Japan (+14.9%), Singapore (+23.1%) and South Korea (+41.1%). Hong Kong was ranked second (-25.0%), posting its fourth consecutive month of very sharp decline. The United Kingdom (-13.9%), the largest market in Europe, suffered from an unfavourable base effect and also fell significantly.
Baselworld welcomes an auction house
Baselworld will host the prestigious Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo at its next edition. Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo is the world’s leading auction house in the watch market, exceeding CHF 110 million in 2019. For this premiere, Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo will exhibit to the general public, on the one hand a selection of prestigious watches, modern and vintage highlights from its spring auctions, some of which have never been seen by the general public, and on the other hand a selection of extraordinary watches lent by private collectors. The exhibition space that will be exclusively reserved for it will benefit from a prime location in the main Hall 1.
De Bethune stands by the Womanity Foundation
Girls’ education and women’s empowerment are at the beginning of any lasting and sustainable change. Only if we all make the effort and get involved do we stand a chance at eliminating the inequalities between men and women so that, together, we can build a better world. If all the women of the world could learn to read and write, had the right to study and work, and knew their rights, then the social, economic and political development of the countries they live in would be that much faster. De Bethune cultivates these essential egalitarian values, the ones that inspired the creation of the De Bethune DB25 Starry Varius, a watch made of titanium with a dial that shows the stars on a given night on a given date, which the buyer may specify. The proceeds from the auction of this watch will be entirely donated to Womanity, for the foundation’s 15 years of global action to empower women and girls.
New partnership between Norqain and Kenissi
Norqain has partnered with Kenissi, an automatic movement manufacturer founded by Tudor. This long-term collaboration between the two companies underlines Norqain’s desire to offer high-quality watches with robust and efficient movements to their clients. This new partnership involves the production of two chronometer-certified manufacture calibers. The three-hand caliber NN20/1 and the GMT caliber NN20/2, both with a 70-hour power reserve, will enrich the brand’s existing collections since summer 2020.
Bulgari to withdraw from Baselworld 2020
After the very successful LVMH Watch Week in Dubai in January, and with the growing traveling uncertainties related to Coronavirus, Bulgari Horlogerie has decided not to participate to Baselworld 2020. The brand has already met its key clients and media in Dubai. Ever since, the outbreak of Coronavirus with more than 40’000 identified cases and more than 1’000 deaths has created a new contingency situation worldwide with increasing traveling restrictions as well as sharp decline in air traffic. In that context, and with only 2 and half months to come, Bulgari has decided to cancel its participation to Baselworld 2020 and replace it by roadshows in its biggest markets to meet the clients and medias who were not present in Dubai.
Bulgari against the Coronavirus
Bulgari supports science in its fight against coronavirus with a major donation to the Research Department of the Lazzaro Spallanzani Hospital in Rome, the first medical teams to isolate the virus in less than 48 hours, a key achievement that will allow to perfect the diagnosis, the cure and development of the vaccine. Honoring its long and strong relationship with CSR and humanitarian causes, the Roman Jeweler decided to sustain the intelligent hands and visionary minds of Italy’s Centre of excellence in Research and Medicine. Bulgari’s donation will allow the purchase of a state of the art microscopic image acquisition system – a fundamental machine in the support of this challenging research that will lead to the prevention and treatment of the virus.
Grand Seiko Boutique opens in Place Vendôme
In March 2020, the first Grand Seiko Boutique in Europe will open its doors at 7, Place Vendôme in Paris. As befits this most prestigious of locations, it will be the largest Grand Seiko Boutique in the world and will give watch lovers an unparalleled opportunity to see the widest range outside Japan and to experience the world of Grand Seiko. The timing is propitious. 2020 is the 60th anniversary of the creation of Grand Seiko. In Japanese culture, a 60th birthday is a moment of new energy and rebirth. For Grand Seiko, therefore, 2020 is the perfect moment to open a new global showcase and to present both the wide range of the Grand Seiko collection and several watches made especially for this anniversary year as well as some that will be exclusive to this new Paris boutique.
De Grisogono files for bankruptcy
The Genevan jeweler De Grisogono filed for bankruptcy, ensnared in a corruption probe involving Isabel dos Santos, the daughter of Angola’s former president. De Grisogono couldn’t secure a buyer despite talks that lasted several months. The failed negotiations forced the company to file for creditor protection with Swiss authorities, which if accepted, will affect 65 jobs in the nation. The move comes a week after a consortium of global media reported that De Grisogono was propped up with nearly $150 million in loans from Angolan entities to pay off the struggling company’s debts and expenses. The reports, based on the so-called Luanda Leaks, said dos Santos’s husband, Sindika Dokolo, and the Angolan state diamond firm Sodiam in 2012 formed a Malta-based company to buy a stake in the brand.
Swatch Group results down in 2019
Group net sales of CHF 8,243 million (-2.7%) for an operating result of CHF 1,023 million (-11.4%). The operating margin amounted to 12.4% versus 13.6% in the previous year. Net income of CHF 748 million (-13.7%) with a net margin of 9.1%. The operating cash flow increased by 30% to CHF 1,224 million. Excluding Hong Kong SAR, Group sales increased in the second half of 2019 by 5% at constant exchange rates and the operating result by 6%. Group management expects healthy growth in 2020 in all markets in local currency, with the exception of Hong Kong SAR. The currency situation will remain challenging. A special highlight for the Group will be the Olympic Summer Games in Tokyo, where Omega can uniquely showcase itself in one of the largest luxury markets in the world.