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CORDER’S COLUMN: Communication breakdown

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It will be interesting to see how the world’s media reacts to the 2019 launches from Swatch Group’s brands. As I write, there has been no word of how, when or whether the press will receive news of the collections. The company has confirmed that retailers have been invited to an event in Zurich from March 19 to 26 where the luxury brands — Breguet, Harry Winston, Blancpain, Jaquet Droz, Glashütte Original and Omega — will presumably present this year’s watches.

There has still been no announcement on where retailers will meet with representatives of the volume brands such as Longines, Rado and Tissot, but stockists will no doubt fall into line if they are summoned to either a single global event or a roadshow that touches down in their territory.

Swatch Group should not be so certain of compliance from the world’s press this year. They — we — can be an awkward bunch.

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Of course the media is heavily reliant on advertising from many Swatch Group brands, so it is not as if the behemoth has no cards to play, but there is growing frustration at the lack of communication this year, and communication is vital to every healthy relationship.

I hope the current silence is part of a cunning plan that will surprise and delight all stakeholders in Swatch Group’s success, and the world’s media is certainly in that camp.

There is so much to look forward to this year, particularly from Swatch Group’s biggest brand, Omega, which I expect is gearing up for a massive program of activity around the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first set foot on the moon. This is also the first full year when Omega has offered a five year warranty on all new watches, thanks in part to advances in manufacturing at the company’s new facility in Bienne. This is a powerful statement about Omega’s confidence in the build quality of its products.

Plus there are the first watches built around a relaunched Calibre 321 that has retailers and the press salivating at a comeback for one of Omega’s most famous movements. Which watches? We can only guess until or unless we are shown.

I wrote in January that 2019 and 2020 (we have the Tokyo Olympics and the 25th James Bond movie in 2020) could be a time when Omega closes the gap on Rolex. Swatch Group may feel that it can either rely on the support of the world’s media, or live without it.

March 19 to 26 is not far away and I, like every other editor reporting on the watch industry, have commitments (Baselworld runs March 21 to 26). If all the major news is announced in Zurich to retailers, and only shared with journalists via e-mail without anybody being able to touch and feel the watches, I can image its reception will be a little more lukewarm than it deserves.

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Rob Corder

The author Rob Corder

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