Jean-Christophe Babin - Group CEO - Bvlgari

- Geneva Watch Days vs. Basel, plans for 2021 global watch event

The Geneva Watch Days is a central project for different reasons. First, this self-managed operations gathering several very different brands will be the only one and unique multi-brands watch related event in 2020 after Baselworld and SIIH/Watches & Wonders cancellations. Moreover a physical gathering is part of this industry and community: digital and virtual presentations and watch talks will never replace such a moment where you can talk directly with the brands executives and get the products in your hands, both for customers and press. This project is equally important for the watch community – retailers, medias – since it generates also hope: watch life recovers and goes on! Furthermore, this message of hope addresses as well all of the industry employees, it is a positive signal in a period lacking  tangible and real perspectives.
As for 2021, situation has moved drastically as you know with the cancellation of Baselworld and the move of the big brands to Geneva in April. On our side we did not yet define a position since everything is being discussed but what is sure is that we will be around Geneva in April 2021. How, impossible to say actually.


- Watch novelties of 2020 that are particularly dear to him

All are of course dear to me, starting by the Serpenti Seduttoir Tourbillon we launched last January. This is the smallest shaped movement tourbillon on the market which mirrors perfectly our innovations capacities. Beside that very elegant piece, Octo takes also a central place in my heart. We introduced last January also the new Octo Finissimo Steel 100m waterproof and we must admit that it is really a stunner. This model competes clearly within the very exclusive field of luxury sporty watches such as Nautilus or Royal Oak for instance. But of course due to the Covid crisis several launches had to be postponed so we will have impacting new models and collections to be presented next August during the Geneva Watch Days including a new highly impacting Octo Finissimo, a brand new and unexpected mens’ collection and a long time sought after new Gerald Genta model.

- Future of the industry and luxury in general after the pandemics.

We can forecast without doubts a severe impact on a part of the supply chain for sure. Almost all the watch related activities have stopped, no production of whatever component you might imagine (or with extreme difficulties), this crisis as mentioned might destroy many small/mid-sized companies among the suppliers with their know how altogether as did happen in the seventies with two decades then necessary to come back. It’s a scenario we must avoid as I said earlier. As for the brands and the post-Covid “new” landscape, we can imagine that brands (specially micro brands) will not be strong enough to resist. But I would finally add that the consumer also will eventually approach luxury in another way with a new attitude, eventually giving priority to authenticity of the products, authenticity of the brand’s soul and spirit.
 
The Covid-19 is of course impacting our business but more widely all the non-food and pharmaceutical businesses worldwide as 40% of the planet is currently confined with stores shut down. On our side the watch business had great double digit January driven by the new Serpenti Seduttori collection and Octo. Ever since with the Covid-19 eruption in China end January business has been slowing down at the pace of stores closures or schedule limitations as well as citizens confinement. Right now we still register good results in Asia although below last year whereas because of the total shut down, we don’t sell any Watch in Europe and North America except via bulgari.com. We follow China recovery with great hope as it’s now 2 weeks our overall business is positive in China driven by jewelry. Watches are still negative but catching up. In that context we temporarily closed our 3 Swiss workshops but maintaining business continuity key teams in order to secure this particular moment on a temporary basis but moreover to anticipate and prepare the rebound that we expect to be strong. High end after sales and prototyping to prepare the Geneva Watch Days end August where we’ll present major novelties including a brand new men collect

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