Five Britons in French ski resort catch coronavirus after contact with man who had been in Singapore channelnewsasia.com reports. The coronavirus is causing consternation in the Southeast Asia island city-state. “Ministry of Health confirmed three new cases of the coronavirus (33 reported so far) that weren’t immediately linked to previous cases,” thehill.com informs. “Additionally, none of the new cases had recently traveled to China, where the outbreak began.” That’s bad bad news for Swiss watchmakers . . .
As we reported on December 21, Singapore was a bright spot for Swiss watchmakers in 2019 – exports were up 29.6%. That was a welcome boost, especially after pro-democracy protests sliced and diced the once bountiful Hong Kong market – watch sales sank 30% year-on-year.
Again, Asia accounted for roughly half of all Swiss watch exports last year. With the Chinese luxury watch market closed for business – specifically the gambling mecca of Macau – it’s a coronavirus consumer catastrophe. The Singapore coronavirus outbreak is looking like a ton of salt poured into a very large and spreading wound.
With dozens of horological journalists and retailers due in from China, the Swatch Group cancelled their Time to Move schmoozefest. Baselworld has postponed their late-March get-together to late April. If things get worse, the organizers may be forced to terminate this year’s event, costing execs, retailers and consumers millions in cancellation fees.
The Swiss watch industry is facing the worst catastrophe since the Quartz Crisis, compounded by the ongoing Smart Watch Crisis. What effect this will have on Swiss watch brands’ survival and, of course, prices remains to be seen. But unless the virus peters out – and soon – things are going to get a whole lot worse – and soon.
The Singapore coronavirus outbreak could be the tip of another very large iceberg, and the hull of the Swiss watch industry is already deeply gashed. Even if things approve, consumer confidence may take a LONG time to recover.
UPDATE: Fear can be more harmful than coronavirus, Singapore PM says after run on shops. Never mind watches, residents are stocking-up on instant noodles, tinned food and toilet paper,