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‘Indian Customers Are Drawn To Our Precision And Quality’
BW Businessworld’s Prabodh Krishna met with Jean-Daniel Pasche, President of the Bienne headquartered Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, the leading lobby of Swiss watch manufacturers, for his views on tax relaxation for Swiss watches in Asia and other regions. Excerpts:
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How is India important for the Swiss high-end watch industry?
India has become the 26th market for the Swiss watch industry after Kuwait and ahead of Bahrain. It certainly makes India an important destination for us. It is difficult to ignore India in the current scenario.
The Swiss watch industry has its luxury customer base. Where does India figure in the scheme of things, especially since it’s now the world’s sixth largest economy?
We know that the economy of India is growing and we hope the growth will go on. There is still potential for our industry to develop its business in India, but it will take time. Nevertheless, Indian customers are interested in Swiss watches.
Which are the popular players from the Swiss watch industry eyeing the Indian market?
It is a question that I should not answer. There are players and there are also players who are looking forward to the market in the region.
What in your opinion draws the customers? The mechanical precision / craftsmanship or precious jewels and metals in the luxury watches?
I guess Indian customers are attracted to Swiss watches because of their precision and quality. The Swiss watch industry relies on skilled people, investments in technical and aesthetic innovations and a long tradition of watchmaking.
The smart watch industry is growing exponentially. How do you think the Swiss watches will compete with it?
Actually, smart watches and traditional wrist watches are two different kinds of products and the consumers have different expectations from them. They can both develop at the same time. There are people who can afford both and wear them according to the different activities of the day. I would like to add that you can also find Swiss smart watches in the market. I am confident about the future of the traditional Swiss watches despite the smart watches; no one can point fingers on their quality.
So will Swiss watches incorporate features of smart watches while retaining their mechanical precision?
Why not? But I cannot prejudge the future of watchmaking. There are already some hybrid watches in the market.
Most of the popular luxury watch brands in India like Rolex and Rado are popular due to brand endorsement. What will be the strategy of other Swiss brands for India?
It will be a brand strategy specific issue and I would not like to respond to it. I cannot comment on the strategy of the brands.
China is facing competition from India’s economic growth. Do you think India will be your next sustainable destination?
Well, China is already the third largest market for the Swiss watch industry and our brands export a lot of watches to China. Nevertheless, we expect India will continue to grow and develop as an important market for our industry. We hope that conditions for business will improve in India, with a reduction in the taxes which remain high. The taxes affect the development of the watch trade. We duly hope that Switzerland and India will be able to conclude a free trade agreement in order to facilitate trade.
What makes Swiss luxury watch brands timeless?
The high quality and the creative beauty of the watches cause positive emotions and pleasure that come from wearing a nice product.