Will Financial Crisis Save Watch Industry?

The latest edition of Haute Horologerie e-zine has an interesting article "from the workbench" by R&D engineer Henri-Michel Guignard and consultant to De Béthune among others (click here to see article).
Guignard has great praise for his early experiences with Jaeger leCoultre and bemoans the lack of hands-on experience of newer horological engineers.  He predicts a rise in mechanical watchmaking will be forced by a realization that current high prices are not reflected in the quality of watches.

"I believe the financial crisis is saving Swiss watchmaking! The sector had grown out of all proportion these past few years and we were heading straight for the wall. Will watchmaking’s entrepreneurs have the sense to take advantage of this lull to choose a more coherent path?"
I have been repeating this for the last 5 years!
05/20/2009 - 21:32
The sector that I never seen really hurt by financial crisis is 'luxury' watch industry, I mean 'luxury' of quality, like VC, AP, PP and G-P. Some sh-t, will go under, that are we only glad for! But The Big Three, Five or even 10, will not be hurt! Look at the auction prices!! I asked a wellknown watch auctioneer, who has sold his old very famous firm and re-started. You know who I'm talking of, about some estimates, and they were overall same as before. Some pocket watches I realy were surprised over,  what reserve prices that were set. On one of them it was what I take actually a little more, what I'm selling for.  The high estimates were nearly double. I repeat. Art like painting, sculptures, furniture etc., you buy to bee seen of other people and often to impress. They are the loosers. I have seen three real bad downturns in my life, this isn't the worst. We are soon back again at nnormal! Worst withy my conviction is, that you can't do any bargains among watches. Have alook around. I haven't seen anyone yet! On the other hand I'm selling a lot of VC's right now, because I have them in a company, and I must 'kill' that company a soon as possible, and it's easy to sell watches, or rather like normal. I talked to a dealer yesterday, who said it's the cheap watches, like some Omega, JLC, Longines  and all those Breitlings, plus names I don't even want to remember that are difficult to sell! The more exspensive the more easy, was the message I got from the homeland of watches! So cheer up girls and boys Doc
Just curious Doc...
05/21/2009 - 20:10
Doc, You mentioned that GP is at the level of VC, PP, and AP. However, JLC is only at the cheap level of Omega, Breitling, etc. I do not quite understand this, in my opinion, GP and JLC are at basically the same level. I am sorry this does not pertain directly to VC, but I was just curious.  Best Regards, Mike
Hi Mike, that's not the Brands that is my point,
05/21/2009 - 22:19
what I mean are that some brands have no 'cheap' mechanical watches at all, for instance VC, AP and PP. Let's say others and than including all others weelknowned,  have some  'cheap' models that are 'cheap'.. I bought a Master Compressor Chronograph and a Rolex Seadweller, and they are anyhow cheaper than what the Big Three can offer. But the mainpoint is that those brands that are in the middle and lower price level,I personally believe will be most hurt, at least this has happened before. You can see that on brands that been away from the market for years, and under the boom suddenly popped up again BTW, I like both G-P, which I have several of, and also JLC, especially since it's thank's to them You and I have our VC's Cheers Doc
I agree with you Doc, mid and lower range...
05/22/2009 - 01:03
pieces will suffer the most. I read an article that the Breguet Double Tourbillon which retails for a whole lot of money is selling out within a week of when they arrive to the U.S.   The highend, expensive pieces will basically remain unhurt by the economic crisis. I think the incredible VC chocolate dial ref. 2755 will all be spoken for very quickly.  By the way, I love you Art Deco VC pieces! They are fantastic inside and out. I cannot see enough pics of these beauties! Best Regards, Mike
I sure as hell hope so. This crisis will certainlw clean the
05/21/2009 - 11:43
industry from past practices. First too many brands wanting to go high end, no problem with that per se, but having someone else make the movements and just putting their name on dial with a 5-6 figure price tag was an insult to the customer's intelligence. Most of these brands are now in dire straights and if they don't disappear they will certainly rethink their strategy. Prices were also going crazy, completely delinked from reality, any piece of sh** was selling at ridiculous prices. Brands will rethink this strategy and will need to offer real value for their watches and the prices asked.  We are definately going back to a buyer's market