As the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie kicks-off this year’s watch launches, numerous economic factors are challenging the status quo, writes but the timepieces remain very impressive. Additional reporting by and
he week before the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) is usually spent watching weather forecasts, as there have been occasions when the fair has been affected by snowrelated flight delays. This year, though, the talk was centred on a very different matter: the Swiss National Bank’s sudden removal of the Swiss franc’s peg to the euro, which had been in place since 2011. On the day the peg was set aside, the value of the Swiss franc rose by 30 per cent against the euro, much to the consternation of the watch industry.
With price levels around the world a continual puzzle for watch brands and their retail partners, such a sudden move meant any pricing differential between markets was hugely amplified, making watches in Switzerland much more expensive for tourists, while making shopping in the rest
of the eurozone very attractive indeed. In the longer term, though, it means the cost of producing watches in Switzerland will increase significantly, which means that, particularly with high-end mechanical watches, the brands have a challenge when it comes to deliveries and pricing of this year’s new introductions.
So as SIHH opened its doors, having had just one weekend to digest the implications of the central bank’s actions, the impact on the salon itself was difficult to gauge; bearing in mind that SIHH is very much tradeoriented, with dealers from around the world going to Geneva to place orders, much of the pricing that had been prepared would need to be revised.
As the salon progressed, though, there was less and less talk about the Swiss franc, and the focus shifted back to the collections unveiled and the general state of the industry. A number of factors, economic and political,