March 08, 2019
“There are great expectations”
2018 finally saw a return in the watch industry to pre-crisis levels. The value of Swiss watch exports over the 12 months was CHF 21.2 billion, an increase of 6.3% over 2017. Jean-Daniel Pasche, President of the Swiss Watch Federation, expects a positive year 2019, backed by strong Asian markets, and is looking forward to Baselworld, which feels for him like a surprise this time.
Mr Pasche, what are your predictions for 2019?
Jean-Daniel Pasche: 2019 has started on a positive note, and we expect the positive figures of 2018 to continue in 2019. Of course we could suffer a base effect, since the first six months of 2018 were very strong – it is harder to do better than that. In the end we expect a positive year despite a lot of uncertainties in the world.
Jean-Daniel Pasche: The possible trade war between US and China, the effect of Brexit, the economic evolution in China… such developments have an impact on the watch industry.
What parts of the world are driving the positive growth?
Jean-Daniel Pasche: It is led by the Asian market. And we see in the first month of 2019 that Asia remains positive. The US too. It is a bit more difficult in Europe, especially in southern Europe – in countries like Italy and Spain.
The export prices of quartz watches and mechanical watches below CHF 500 fell back. Why is that?
Jean-Daniel Pasche: In this segment, there is competition with other products; bags, perfume, leather goods, smartwatches – and the competition with non-Swiss watch brands. Thus, the growth is driven by the high segment (export price above CHF 500), which is clearly growing.
Baselworld has fewer exhibitors this year, how will that affect the show?
Jean-Daniel Pasche: Although some important players are gone, there are very important brands there. Baselworld remains the world’s most important watch show. We hope that it will be an optimistic show for brands and for visitors. That is the most important thing. We hope that the most important trade show for watches will remain in Switzerland.
Why is Baselworld, in your words, the most important watch show in the world?
Jean-Daniel Pasche: Baselworld is not only about the big brands, but also about the diversity of exhibitors: Big brands, small brands, and brands from so many different countries. The visitors are also important – I am for instance meeting my colleagues from other watch associations from China, from Hong Kong. People come from all over the world.
How do you think the improvements of Baselworld affect the outcome of the show?
Jean-Daniel Pasche: It is difficult to predict. Fairs in all industries, including the Auto Salon, are not in an easy situation at the moment. Baselworld faces a new situation, with new staff and a new organisation. Baselworld 2019 feels like a surprise to me – I look forward to seeing the reanimation, the improvements, the reorganising! Exhibitors and visitors are excited and they are expecting a lot.