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Watch careers on the way out?

by Jordan Ficklin

Friday yahoo declared that watch careers were on the way out: 9 Careers on the way out. They attribute this to cell phone use displacing watch consumers. Too bad the Swiss watch industry exported 26 Million watches in 2008 (the most ever) totaling 17 Billion Swiss Francs, a 7% increase over the previous year. (See FHS Statistics) Granted 2009 was slower, but it nothing to do with cell phones and everything to do with the world economy, you will note that mobile phone sales were also way down in 2009. I think I’ll stick with watchmaking for now, I think the future is good for us.

5 Comments

  1. Posted February 2, 2010 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    Yahoo is still around?. I thought they were on the way our. :)

  2. Posted February 2, 2010 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Hey JP, couldn’t resist the dig myself lol! Yahoo, are a bunch of ‘Yahoo’s'- Yes, the watch sales person in the U.S. is fading, but nothing to do or attributed to cellphone usage. The U.S. has seen a decline of 35-40% in Swiss watch imports from 2008 to 2009, so the big panic is of course bankruptcies and closures of some high profile buyers of Swiss made watches.
    Of course, a little cat out there still tells me the High-end watch Industry is still doing particularly well ;) and in fact their market share has increased during these difficult times!!
    As far as a watchmaker’s job is concerned, Switzerland jobs still offer, despite the downturn, superb jobs for watchmakers- with higher than normal salaires expected for 2010 over 2009, and 2008. So, yes, it is a great idea to stick with the watchmaking Jp!!
    best regards from Victoria B.C.
    Prem C.

  3. Stephen Noble
    Posted February 2, 2010 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    I have to agree with the article… well in part. The sales of cheap, basic watches have been on the downtrend for many years. The cell phone has a lot to do with this. However, I am sure the author of that article is referring to this common, every-day watch, not high-end timepieces that interest us.

    These high-end mechanicals satisfy the customer’s wants, not needs. We don’t NEED a $7,000 Rolex to simply know what time it is. The utilitarian aspect of the watch was defeated by the quartz revolution long ago. Watches values plunged and (as many people know) mechanical based watch companies shut their doors. Their revival is, due in large part, to the customer’s demand for an expression of wealth, luxury and the respect for the recording of time in the form of functional art. Quartz doesn’t offer any of this.

    We watchmakers have a bright future. If I were to be a salesman of sub $100 watches instead… well then things would not look great.

  4. J.Peter
    Posted February 2, 2010 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    Stephen, I agree with you on the low end watches, except that there already is no such thing as a salesperson for these watches, they just get stocked on shelves. Watches which need salespersons are here to stay. Another point is that checking the time on your watch (in say a meeting or a board room) is way more subtle and accepted than pulling out your phone to check the time, because they have no idea what you are doing. With your phone you could be texting, playing tetris, or updating your facebook status, nobody knows. With your watch, you are just curious what the time is.

  5. Stephen Noble
    Posted February 2, 2010 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    I’ll give you a good example. Luxottica (the parent company for Sunglass Hut, makers of half the designer brand’s lines, Oakley, Ray Ban) used to have a company called, “Watch Station.” The sole reason for its folding, and some-times integration into the local Sunglass Hut, was due to low volume sales of their product’s market, the $80-$300 brand watch. These stores were completely low to low/moderate brand watches with watch salespeople.

    I agree with you though, the bulk of watches in this category are sold at entry-level jewelry stores and don’t have a designated watch person.

    Just wanted to produce an example of my point though.

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