Cartier's luxury store in Moscow, Russia. (Shutterstock/Papin Lab)
The Geneva watch salon will be replaced with an online event as the Swiss watchmaking industry tries to make the best of what probably will be the worst year in the modern history of watchmaking.
On Saturday, a site will open up to consumers, retailers and media, showcasing new products from 30 brands, including Panerai and Vacheron Constantin, organizer Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie said in a statement Monday.
Swiss watch exports may drop a record 25 percent this year in one of the best-case scenarios, Vontobel analyst Rene Weber has estimated. The internet is the last resort for luxury watchmakers, which are struggling to hawk their wares in an industry based on face-to-face communication and checking how well a timpieces fits on one’s wrist.
The show on http://www.watchesandwonders.com will consist mostly of Geneva-based Richemont’s brands, such as Cartier and IWC Schaffhausen, plus rival watchmakers Hermes and MB&F.
Swiss watchmakers were slow to adapt to the internet, only in recent years joining social media and putting even timepieces with six-digit price tags up for sale online. Richemont may have an advantage over rivals Swatch Group AG and LVMH because it was an exception, spending billions to expand in online sales, which now represent about 18 percent of its total revenue, according to Bank Vontobel estimates. That compares to 2 percent for the industry in general.
In a rival event, Breitling Chief Executive Officer Georges Kern presented the label’s new watches last week via webcast.
“We need to stay in contact with watch lovers around the world,” Kern said.
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