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Breitling set to restart production on Monday

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Breitling’s production facility in La Chaux-De-Fond, Switzerland, will re-open on Monday, according to the company’s chief executive Georges Kern. There is no word on its Grenchen factory. Both have been closed since March 19.

Switzerland’s watch industry has been at an almost complete standstill since the middle of March due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

Rolex chief executive Jean-Frederique Dufour told workers on March 17 that its three facilities would close for 10 days. That period is thought to have been extended.

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Patek Philippe, TAG Heuer, Hublot and Audemars announced they were suspending production around the same time, other brands introduced social distancing within their facilities, which slowed output across the Swiss watchmaking industry to a near standstill.

Switzerland’s statistics on the spread of Coronavirus show its peak of new cases per day was reached on March 20 and there has been a slow decrease since, although the total number of cases and deaths continues to rise.

Breitling had originally hoped it would re-open on April 1, but that date has been pushed back by almost a week to April 6.

Mr Kern, who is working from home along with the vast majority of Breitling employees, says he will be at his office in La Chaux-De-Fond on Monday.

“Everybody is aware about the damage that this is doing to the economy. It is so enormous, but we had to hammer it early in order to get the economy moving again faster,” he says in an Instagram live interview with Watchonista’s Viviana Shanks.

“The question now is how do we deal with restarting production in a way that keeps everybody safe and secure. We will be working in shifts with the aim of restoring production to 60 too 70%,” he adds.

Breitling had already taken the decision not to participate in this year’s Baselworld or Watches & Wonders Geneva before Coronavirus struck. There have already been 2020 watches launched digitally, and the next major event will be on April 16 when the brand will hold a Digital Summit webinar to unveil three fresh lines described only as a relaunched Chronomat, a capsule collection similar to last year’s airline-themed B01 Navitimers, and a new ladies’ collection.

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Rob Corder

The author Rob Corder