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Watchuseek Journalist
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This year has been interesting in terms of watch trade fairs. First, days before SIHH, the Swiss Franc became a free floating currency and caused chaos in the watch industry. Both small and big players predicted impending doom. As for watches, there were only subtle changes in the watch lineup with not any breakthrough innovations, with the exception of acoustics heard from Audemars Piguet's RD1 concept watch.

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Next up was Baselworld in March which happened to be when Apple announced release date of Apple watch. There were lively discussion online and offline. Various watch and tech pundits gave their predictions on either how the watch industry will be disrupted, or how Apple watch will be a failure. Well, now we know neither happened, but we will have a better idea in terms of sales by Baselworld 2016. Despite this sideshow, the underlying theme of Basel show was “value for your money” where brands either dropped their pricing or kept it flat. Why was the word “value” being brought up so often in Basel? - Market conditions (especially in Asia), currency fluctuations, and retailers along with consumers were vociferously expressing concerns regarding ever escalating prices.

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In terms of Basel show in recent years, 2015 was an average year for watch releases. Tag Heuer received attention with yet-to-be-released smart watch (November 9th), and Patek for releasing a Pilot watch in gold case. Several big and small brands focused on entry level watches between $1000 - $3000. The only bright spot in Basel show was the work of independent watchmakers. They continue following their passion regardless of market conditions, not knowing what tomorrow looks like – that’s when you witness real creativity and innovation.

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This brings us to current time with the Hong Kong Watch Fair scheduled in early September. The timing of this show coincides with the steep slide of Chinese stock market and rough market conditions. Contrary to belief, this should be good news for the Chinese manufacturers and suppliers. Swiss and German watch brands will be exploring partnership opportunities at the watch fair to manage their production costs. It will be also interesting to see the progress of Chinese made movements, cases, and micro brands.

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Stay tuned for reports from Hong Kong from September 8th to 13th.

Cheers,
Bhanu
 
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