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Zenith watchmakers return to work

Zenith Service Centre Le Locle

Zenith closed its watchmaking facility in Le Locle, Switzerland, on March 17, as Coronavirus cases surged in Europe, but will re-open on May 4, according to the company’s chief executive Julien Tornare. 

The company’s service department and logistical operations restarted last week for watch repairs and servicing.

Shipping watches to markets like China, where retailers have reopened, has also begun to a limited capacity.

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“For the last two weeks we have had six to eight people going in one day per week for servicing and shipping watches to China,” Mr Tornare said in a video conference with journalists yesterday.

Zenith CEO Julien Tornare on a zoom call with WatchPro’s Rob Corder.

Watchmaking will resume on Monday next week, but is not expected to be back up to full capacity until the middle of June, three months after the facility closed.

Administrative staff that are able to work from home will continue to do so.

Zenith makes around 20,000 watches per year and a quarter of its output may be lost to the lock down.

Life after lock down

The Swiss watch industry is slowly creeping back to life.

Rolex said yesterday that its production sites are still closed for the moment but all security measures recommended by the government are currently being put in place for a gradual opening in the near future.

Patek Philippe partially reopened its watchmaking facility this week.

Breitling returned to work last week.

There has been no update from Richemont or other LVMH brands, and Swatch Group’s maisons are thought to have continued production in a limited capacity throughout the lock down.

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Rob Corder

The author Rob Corder