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SWISS watches are coming to Singapore in a big way. The Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry is organising a major Swiss watch exhibition here on the occasion of 50 years of diplomatic relations between Singapore and Switzerland.
The Swiss watch exhibition will be held at the upmarket Paragon shopping complex on Orchard Road as part of the Singapore-Swiss celebrations there from July 23 to Aug 13. With the Swiss national day falling on Aug 1 and Singapore's national day on Aug 9, the celebrations have been designed to encompass both countries' national days.
"Our objective is to meet the end consumers in Singapore and to explain to them why the Swiss watch is so unique," says Jean-Daniel Pasche, president of the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry.
The Swiss watch exhibition will be based on seven big topics: Switzerland, Swiss made, history, design, precision, manufacture and complications.
"All the way through the exhibition, the visitors are immersed in the wonders of Switzerland and are invited to discover how Swiss watches work, their history and the way they are designed and manufactured," Mr Pasche tells The Business Times.
"Moreover watch.swiss emphasises the link between the watch industry and Switzerland as a country with its rules, a land with its distinctive landscapes, and a reserve of qualified people."
watch.swiss is the new branding of the federation. In fact, the federation previously visited Singapore in 2007 with its earlier travelling exhibition. But as that exhibition was organised within the framework of a collectors' watch show, it cannot be compared with the upcoming event to be held at the Paragon.
Mr Pasche says that the new branding effort watch.swiss was successfully launched in Japan last year through a three-step roadshow in Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya. The first step was in Tobu department store, the biggest department store in Tokyo, and the exhibition was shown during the Tobu World Watch Fair.
"Our presentation was the same as that is coming to Singapore but we were surrounded by the luxury watch brands which participated in the fair. However, we have been organising watch events worldwide since 1964 and we have been managing a travelling exhibition since 2003."
Singapore is an important market for the Swiss watch industry, and the 50th year of diplomatic relations is a good opportunity to come to Singapore. Moreover, the Swiss event organised by Paragon and the Swiss Embassy in Singapore will provide more visibility for the watch.swiss exhibition, says the federation.
There are several reasons for organising the upcoming Swiss watch event in Singapore and for choosing the Republic as the venue for the second new exhibition.
"Considering that Singapore is our eighth market on a global level and the fourth in Asia, and given the difficulties encountered by the important market in 2016-2017, it is our desire to support this particular country," says Mr Pasche.
Swiss watch exports to Singapore amounted to about one billion Swiss francs (S$1.4 billion) in 2016. It was a drop of 10.4 per cent from the previous year (2015).
What is so special about Swiss watches? What makes them so unique? How did the Swiss watch industry develop?
Mr Pasche says: "Switzerland is a small country characterised by its diversity, its capacity for innovation, its outward looking mindset, its quality of life and focus on a job well done. Reputation, added value, exclusive character and exceptional quality are fundamental assets of Swiss-made timepieces."
The history of the Swiss watch is punctuated by a wealth of technical developments which guarantee the reliability and quality of Swiss timepieces today.
Switzerland has produced watches with strong and timeless lines which have gained an iconic reputation. Designers continue to create and improve; their work holds the key to products that are at one and the same time beautiful and modern.
Since the development of chronometry, Switzerland has constantly pushed back the boundaries of research into precision. Exceptionally accurate watches are still being made in Switzerland today, says Mr Pasche.
Watch making is a huge industry in Switzerland and is the third export industry in Switzerland.
Another interesting fact about the Swiss watch industry is that around 700 companies are working for the Swiss watch industry. It comprises brands and suppliers. And there are about 55,000 people working in the industry.
Mr Pasche says Switzerland exports between 25 and 30 million watches every year, worth almost 20 billion Swiss francs. More specifically, in 2016 Switzerland exported 25.4 million of watches, worth 18.3 billion Swiss Francs.
"The high reputation of the Swiss watch is due to the quality of the manufacturing and the skills of the people involved, from the design phase up to the selling.
"The efficiency of the Swiss people is linked with our history. The Swiss soil having no natural resources (no gas, fuel, etc.), the Swiss people developed some special skills and started to create high added value products," Mr Pasche points out.
The Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry has about 500 members, who account for more than 90 per cent of the Swiss watch companies active in the production and sale of watches, clocks and components. Its objectives are, among others, to protect and develop the Swiss watch industry, to uphold the members' interests and to represent the watch industry as a whole.
One of its tasks is the promotion of the Swiss watch industry worldwide. This goal is specifically achieved today with its brand new travelling exhibition dedicated to Switzerland and Swiss watches: watch.swiss.
The concept of watch.swiss, which was successfully launched in Japan last autumn, is both educational and promotional and is designed to appeal to the end consumers. All the way through the exhibition, the visitors are immersed in the wonders of Switzerland and are invited to discover how Swiss watches work, their history and the way they are designed and manufactured.
Switzerland-Singapore Celebrations at Paragon
From July 27 to Aug 13, the Paragon on Orchard Road will host the first Switzerland-Singapore Celebrations.
A multi-themed, interactive showpiece exposition, alongside cultural and culinary framings, will turn the two atriums of the mall into a veritable Swiss wonderland.
Musical performances will be held on Saturday, July 29: