International watch trade is being veritably impacted—like most industries—due to the continued spread of Coronavirus. While the least of some folk’s worries may be timekeeping, especially with quarantines keeping folks from everyday life (aka time sensitive engagements) all over the globe, the impact of the watchmaking industry slowing down is a significant international economic reality. Indeed, the two largest watch expositions in the world were already canceled back in late February. Both Baselworld and Watches and Wonders Geneva (SIHH) are on the back-burner for the foreseeable future. What’s more, young Swiss watch company Romain Jerome (RJ) is in the midst of filing for bankruptcy—which most in the industry surmise has something to do with COVID-19 woes. Among all of these issues two of Switzerland’s most lauded maisons are halting production for the foreseeable future. Rolex, with a yearly income in the billions, has stopped production as of yesterday (16/03/20). Hublot, founded in 1980—and a multi-million-dollar company in its own right—has similarly closed their production as of the day of this writing (17/03/20).
Rolex and Hublot Take Cautionary Measures
It’s more than understandable for both manufacturers to slow things down. With multiple watchmakers enlisted through both companies, the risk of exposure for personnel is a primary health concern. What’s more, both companies are experiencing a drop in sales which has fundamentally impacted their projected income. Hublot themselves have cited a 70-80% drop in sales since the outbreak, which is cause for alarm in its own right. However, the biggest takeaway from both companies is a sense of concern for the health of their employees. Both Hublot and Rolex have given statements throughout their companies—this follows from the Swiss government itself becoming more stringent concerning the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rolex’s CEO Jean-Frederic Dufour released a candid statement to everyone employed at Rolex’s production facility. His statement reads, “In order to protect you, your family, and your loved ones…we have decided to close our production sites in Geneva, Bienne, and Crissier…”. According to his statement, the closure is meant to last from March 17th, 2020 until March 27th, 2020—but it may last longer “according to the evolution of the epidemic” (source: timezone).
A similar statement from Hublot’s higher-ups reads, “By way of precaution, and to protect our personnel, we have decided to go beyond our government’s current recommendations and close our manufacture’s production site for the time being.” (source: Quill & Pad).
More Coronavirus Closures to Come
With two big names already closing up shop many speculate that there will be more closures to follow in the immediate future. While the Swiss government has already begun cracking down with harder measures, Swiss watchmakers/manufacturers are beginning to take extra steps to protect their employees. In a time of uncertainty for many, anyone involved in watchmaking will surely be erring toward the side of caution. Billion-dollar names and profits aside, COVID-19 is an international health issue that will very likely lead to more at-home days for watchmaking employees—with a focus on retaining a general stability concerning public health. While the long-term effects of the virus on watchmaking are still uncertain, one thing is for sure—the greater international watchmaking community will remain ready to get back into the swing of things. Until then, make sure to maintain healthy habits and be ready for any upcoming 2020 releases. Let’s all do our best to take a lickin’ (figuratively) and keep on tickin’.
Times Ticking has been in operation for more than 30 years, since 1982. We have performed watch repair for customers both locally and internationally. If it Ticks! We KNOW it! Our team of watch repair technicians have a combined experience in watchmaking of over 120 years.