Watch News: 6/28/2020

Hublot Big Bang e

Watch news! Assuming COVID-19 doesn’t do a Mexican wave, the Swiss watch industry’s movers and shakers will gather on Thursday November 12 for their 20th annual orgy of self-congratulation Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève. For the first time, the GPHG will “allow” smartwatches in the ironically named “Challenge” category . . .

There are really only two contenders: the TAG Heuer Connected and the Hublot Big Bang e. As the LVMH group owns both brands and both watches run the same [kludgy] WearOS software, it’s not much of a contest.

As their execs thank the socially distanced throng, no one will mention the 800-pound Apple Watch gorilla in the room. Would anyone dare wear one at the event? As One Direction sang, I would.

Vacheron Constantin Set to Spam Customers

watch news - Louis Ferla, Vacheron CEO

I’m waiting on a three-hand blue dial Vacheron Constantin Overseas. According to CEO Louis Ferla, I can expect to hear watch news from the Swiss watchmaker – and an email or five just to say hello. scmp.com:

I often say to our colleagues that everything we do should make sense for our clients. Yes, we all have one boss at the end and it’s the client. So contacting them when we launched novelties or contacting them when it’s Christmas, Lunar New Year or birthdays, this is the basic.

What we need to do is to contact them when we have nothing to sell, just make sure that they’re OK and we keep in touch. 

I wonder if Mr. Ferla is interested in his customers’ physical, emotion, spiritual or financial health? Tough call.

Singapore Trademark Office Torpedoes Mariner

Franck Muller Mariner

From the department of ridiculousness (via watchpro.com) comes word that the Singapore trademark office has acceded to Rolex’s request to ban Swiss watchmaker Franck Muller from trademarking their Mariner, as it sounds too much like “Submariner.” No really.

Singapore’s IP Adjudicator ruled that, because they shared three identical syllables, which formed a substantial part of the opponent’s mark (and the entirety of the application mark, the only difference being the single syllable ‘sub’), as well as both conveying ideas of the sea and a sailor, the application mark was more similar than dissimilar to the opponent’s mark.

watch news! Muller vs. Rolex (courtesy watchpro.com) Image courtesy watchpro.com. Click on image for link

Additionally, while the public would exercise some care when making a watch purchase, he found that the average consumer would not have specialist knowledge in relation to watches that might be brought to bear in making a purchase. Thus, he concluded, that there was a likelihood of confusion.

In watch news on the Vortic vs. Hamilton case we learned that the U.S. courts require proof of consumer confusion, both by an expert and a survey. Brickbats to the Singapore system, and Rolex for using litigation as a commercial cudgel.

NOMOS Offers Zero Percent 12-Month Financing

NOMOS Ahoi

We’ve been warning of that Coronageddon will ravage the Swiss watch industry. Watchmakers and retailers are starting to do whatever they can to move the metal. Zero percent financing is their first go-to. Buy a NOMOS and the German watchmaker will spread your credit card payments over 12 months, no charge.

The downside: like all manufacturers selling online, NOMOS charges full retail to protect their\ dealers – who are not part of the program, and always ready to deal. Make no mistake: this is not a good sign for NOMOS.

Their products are at the worst possible price point: $2k to $3k. Their customers are people who’ve lost their jobs or might lose their jobs; they’re not in a watch buying frame of mind. Zero percent financing won’t change that.

Apple watchOS 7 Tracks “Low-Range” Cardio

Apple Watch

Earlier this week, we had a look at this fall’s Apple Watch software update. Sleep tracking, hand washing, face sharing, sleep monitoring – the buzz is all about bells and whistles. Not publicized: updated motion sensor’s ability to track “functional (aerobic) capacity.”

Apple said it is working with Zimmer Biomet, an orthopedics products company, on a service called mymobility, which uses Apple Watch’s gait metrics to collect a user’s walking speed and double support time — a measurement of when both feet are on the ground.

This could be useful data for physicians after a procedure, like a knee or hip replacement, to assess their patients’ rate of recovery between clinic visits . . .

The Palo Alto Veterans Institute for Research is testing whether a mobile medical app called VascTrac that monitors movement using Apple devices can predict endovascular failure of patients with peripheral artery disease, which refers to a narrowing of peripheral arteries serving the legs, stomach, arms and head.
Remote doctoring via Apple Watch. It’s a thing. And becoming more of a thing every day.

Chinese watch sales have been booming since end of lock down says Breitling (Or Not)

Sky News - Georges Kern

Save our “or not” addendum, that’s the headline over a watchpro.com article. Only Breitling’s chief executive Georges Kern said no such thing to the [UK] Sky News anchor.

Sky News Georges Kern

No figures were shared in the brief business interview, but Mr Kern suggests he is pleasantly surprised by how strong sales have been since reopening stores in places like China and Germany.

Being “pleasantly surprised” with the sales strength during China’s Coronageddon easing is nowhere near the same as “booming.” In fact, Mr. Kern didn’t say express/suggest any pleasant surprise at anything. He said China’s economy is booming.

True! If you consider 1% growth booming, while “retail and investment remain weak.” And “no figures shared” means no facts need apply. Lesson: cheerleaders gotta cheer, objective analysis be damned.

Swiss watch industry facing worst ever crisis – Hublot CEO

Ricardo Guadalupe

Now there’s a headline that tells it like it is, via reuters.com.

The Swiss watch industry is facing the worst crisis in its history, with the coronavirus pandemic expected to reduce sales by up to 30% this year, Ricardo Guadalupe, the head of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton brand Hublot said.

“Over the year the industry will record a decline of 20 to 30%,” Guadalupe told German newspaper Handelsblatt in an interview published on Thursday.

“Consumption has been brought to a complete standstill. It is not yet clear when and what may be reopened. And then there will be the question of how quickly people’s confidence will return,” he added.

Nothing new for TTAW readers, but it’s refreshing to see a Swiss watch industry bigwig facing reality. Then again, we’re right back at the watch news where we started, with the Hublot Big Bang e.

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