Swatch threatens again to stop supplying movements to other Swiss brands
Published Tuesday, February 23, 2010 by Harry SK Tan |
In a report in the Guardian (UK) by Astrid Wendlandt and Katie Reid, Swatch is seemingly making good on its threats on ending its supply of its ETA ebauches (movement kits) to other Swiss brands. ETA is a conglomerate of companies that makes movement kits to be sold to brands who are unable to have the capacity to build or make their own movements to the volume required that is economically feasible.
For years it had been threatening to cut its supply and this time round, its reported that its motivated by the fact that brands are spending millions on glamorous ad campaigns rather than in research and development of the watchmaking craft. Swatch delivers the ETA movements to 80% of the Swiss watch brands.
An example of how problematic and poor is the Swiss is at putting their priority right is where the report adds that Tag Heuer recently admitted that it had to buy the intellectual property of their first in house movement from the Japanese - Seiko Instruments - than to have it developed internally.
In the event that Swatch makes good in enforcing its plans to stop delivery of the ETA ebauches (forget for the moment that it may end up facing court proceedings for being anti-competitive), there are concerns that the Swiss brands will resort to sourcing its movements from East Asia - Japan and/or China. The concern is the start of the unraveling of the ball of twine that holds the Swiss watch industry together - the claim to being "SWISS MADE".
So it seems that together with the dampened demand due to the recent financial crisis, the ever growing success and threat of counterfeit (replica) watches and now the impending stoppage of important ebauche movements to smaller brands, the Swiss watch industry is heading for somewhat of a critical stage of horological history. Will it end up losing its hallowed status where Swiss Made means something special - or it will survive this period by returning to its roots of making honest watches with good watchmaking craft and not with marketing pretence and grandiose ad campaigns.
I hope Hayek (CEO of Swatch) will succeed in his effort to bring sense back to the Swiss watch industry.
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