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Vich

Anthony Cousins Letter

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Hello Clockboy,

 

The legality issue may be difficult. Swatch is in charge of the pricing of the parts and could charge exhorbitant amounts for them thereby meeting legal requirement to provide but thus making purchase by the independent qualified watch repairer non-viable and repair by swatch seem cheaper as their supply will be at cost even with a hefty mark up. 

 

It may also be the case that many people buying high end watches for several thousands of pounds each would prefer to send them back for servicing by the "maker" as an apparent "safe" pair of hands, even if that is perhaps a bit arguable given some of the case histories I have read.

 

I agree with you that the key is awareness, the general public however, it seems, do not as a body have our interests in mechanical watches.  I spent a day looking at what people wear in general and it seems like big quartz chronometer style watches (just like those supplied by the Swatch Group - they understand the market and have obviously done their research). I don't want to sound anti-quartz, I have a few quartz watches myself, they have their own history, and there is certainly a place for them, its just that I personally would not pay a great amount of money for a new one.

 

I do accept that everyone can spend what they want on whatever watch they want. 

 

My feelings however, are like yours and many others in the forum, that beautiful old watches should be cherished and brought back from a state of disrepair whenever possible.  Because of that I naturally rail against a company that is effectively attempting to make that endeavour difficult if not impossible for no reasons other than pecuniary ones and without regard to maintaining the wonderful old watches from the companies they have bought out. I accept that this all sounds a bit idealistic.

 

I fear that getting the general public behind this campaign may be problematic but perhaps with careful use of the various laws already in place to prevent monopolies etc. the campaign may yet succeed - here's hoping anyway!

 

Cheers,

 

Vic

Edited by Vich

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Hello Clockboy,

 

The legality issue may be difficult. Swatch is in charge of the pricing of the parts and could charge exhorbitant amounts for them thereby meeting legal requirement to provide but thus making purchase by the independent qualified watch repairer non-viable and repair by swatch seem cheaper as their supply will be at cost even with a hefty mark up. 

 

It may also be the case that many people buying high end watches for several thousands of pounds each would prefer to send them back for servicing by the "maker" as an apparent "safe" pair of hands, even if that is perhaps a bit arguable given some of the case histories I have read.

 

I agree with you that the key is awareness, the general public however, it seems, do not as a body have our interests in mechanical watches.  I spent a day looking at what people wear in general and it seems like big quartz chronometer style watches (just like those supplied by the Swatch Group - they understand the market and have obviously done their research). I don't want to sound anti-quartz, I have a few quartz watches myself, they have their own history, and there is certainly a place for them, its just that I personally would not pay a great amount of money for a new one.

 

I do accept that everyone can spend what they want on whatever watch they want. 

 

My feelings however, are like yours and many others in the forum, that beautiful old watches should be cherished and brought back from a state of disrepair whenever possible.  Because of that I naturally rail against a company that is effectively attempting to make that endeavour difficult if not impossible for no reasons other than pecuniary ones and without regard to maintaining the wonderful old watches from the companies they have bought out. I accept that this all sounds a bit idealistic.

 

I fear that getting the general public behind this campaign may be problematic but perhaps with careful use of the various laws already in place to prevent monopolies etc. the campaign may yet succeed - here's hoping anyway!

 

Cheers,

 

Vic

I,m hoping to.  The general public just have be made aware & that,s it no campaigning needed just the lack of sales will do the trick

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Here is the latest from the fight against Swatch etc unfair practices:

 

Dear Contributor,

 

As you will be aware, we have been in contact with both the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, and the Competition and Markets Authority over the spare parts issue. Both organisations went to great lengths to recommend that we obtain proper legal advice, and this is a message that we took very seriously. Since the last update that we released, our efforts have benefitted from a continual dialogue with some of the UK’s best lawyers in the EU Competition Law sector, and a very great deal of progress has been made. However, the downside of discussing legal matters is that the rules on Confidentiality come into play, and frustratingly I am unable to give details at this time.

 

The 31st of December 2015 has come and gone, and the supply of spares from Swatch and ETA has ceased. Many in the industry are doubtless wondering how long the remaining stocks will last, and are having to consider making drastic decisions about the future of their businesses. I am not in any position to promise anything, nor for the reasons given above am I able to disclose what I know. However, what I can say is this. If you are intending to make any major and irrevocable decisions about the future of your enterprise in the next few weeks, can I suggest that you would be well advised to hold off for a just a few weeks more, and see what transpires.

 

If you think that the reason the British Watch and Clock Maker’s Guild  IAF Project has been silent for the last couple of months is because it has given up the fight and gone away, please accept my assurance that you could not be more wrong.

 

Kind Regards

 

Steven Domb

Project Development

Industry Action Fund

iaf@bwcmg.org

07831 538975

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Hello Clockboy,

 

Yes it has spiked my interest, heres hoping there is something good to follow such a big hint. Perhaps Saint Judes help may not be needed after all :angel: 

 

Cheers,

 

Vic

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It sounds encouraging. However, *** start rant ***

it defies belief that watchmakers will make drastic decisions regarding their jobs based on parts availability.

I am not worried in the least. Ok, I enjoy working on modern calibers for sure, but there is still more than enough vintage watch work out there in order to make a living from watch repair.

It is possible that the guys thinking of making these decisions are either too lazy to adapt or are just bored with their jobs. I don't know. But for sure, there is enough work out there for vintage repairs - if parts are not available, and you love your job, then adapt!!

*** end rant ***

:)

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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I want a Rant as well !!

 

It is often not clear how bad Swatch prices are and I understand why Mark is not particularly worried.  As as far as I can see the real problem will exist only when todays watches become "Vintage" and I have separate views on that plus I will be dead by then.

 

Swatch got their hands on some good brands like - Omega, Longines, Breguet, Tissot, Mido and Hamilton amongst a list numbering about 20 (which also contains some bling crazy stuff as well that I personally don't like but accept there is a market for)

Whilst perusing the Omega site I came across the info on repairs which to use, you first have to define your watch category, however they kindly supply the categorisation grid.

 

cs_price_list.pdf

 

Complete Maintenance Service Prices.pdf

 

So for my little old Omega Bumpers born in 1943 and 1946 that would be £680.00 for a maintenance service (for each one).

 

The likelyhood of me ever paying that for watches that cost less than half the maintenance service cost is Zero.

 

Swatch demand an extraordinary level of investment by a business before it is accepted into their "family"

 

I totally understand where Mark is coming from and because of my rather nasty and suspicious nature, I could not trust a business that invested thousands and tooled up to join the gravy train.  I would prefer to do my own research to look for a well reputed,skilled proper old fashioned watch repairer.

 

End of my rant as well - I feel so much better now

 

Cheers,

 

Vic

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Just **BLEEP** the Swiss and buy 3D laser-scanned,  NC-machined parts from China - they will simply fill the void. Just bought a 168.010 (obviously fake) case from Chairman Mao - it is absolutely exact - frightening really I suppose :(

 

(plus 'Call me Dave' want's to expand trade with China - ideal opportunity :) )

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Its already getting crazy. Just paid over £20 for a standard GR automatic mainspring, last year it would have cost £9.50

Same with a Valjoux 7730 stem. Grr... Three very standard parts just purchased and the bill was over £60!!!

:pulling-hair-out:

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(Sorry about the expletive BTW - just slapped myself on the wrist - what has wound me up has simply been trying to get some spring-bars for 1960s Omega bracelets (single shoulder, 10.5mm x 1.5mm with 1.5mm spring tails - ffn bespoke Omega part) - all 3rd party wholesalers (Watchco, Frei etc) now report 'no stock - cannot supply'   

 

It is just a bracelet FFS!

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For what it is worth and noting the wide extent to which many 'premium' watchmakers have used ETA ebauches for several decades now, I understand that the international patents on some of the older ETA calibres are starting to run out and that 3rd parties, such as Seagull in China, evidently copy them quite legally - I have not explored it but I presume the likes of Seagull would not be beyond opening up a business stream supplying 'generic' ETA parts for the said older calibres. I am no expert but I hear the Seagull ETA clones are in fact good quality 

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Maybe I'm dumb but wouldn't restricting trade or supply be covered by EU regulations against anti-competition laws?  I know that under Aussie law that a company that tried to restrict supply in this fashion would probably be prosecuted.  I cannot understand the actions of the manufacturers save that they might actually want to drive the small watchmaking and jewellery shops out of business.  That's cutting off your nose to spite your face!  Most people will take their watch to their local shop and not a manufacturer's service station.

Edited by stroppy

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Hello Stroppy,

We will shortly find out what the Guild/IAF are basing their case upon but I think you may not be far off the mark.  They may very well use EU laws and dispute procedures to try and  fight to resolve the issue. In the last info I posted around 31st March we were advised that news would follow in the next few weeks so it may be soon.

When I was young my Parish Church and where I went to Sunday School was St Judes, so I am looking to Thaddeus for some help here:cool:

Cheers,

Vic

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Well, I know that under our laws here that price fixing between companies making/selling the same product is strictly verbotten and if you do it the ACCC  (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) would be all over you dishing out fines left, right and centre.  Surely EU and British laws would be the same, if not stricter.

Very interesting and worth watching, me thinks!:cool:

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6 hours ago, stroppy said:

Well, I know that under our laws here that price fixing between companies making/selling the same product is strictly verbotten and if you do it the ACCC  (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) would be all over you dishing out fines left, right and centre.  

so far nothing from our ACCC boys on this one and Harko has been beating the drum for a while on it.

http://nickhacko.blogspot.com.au/2015/07/dumb-vs-smart.html

I've got a lot of vintage watches now(1867-1969), all 6 of my modern ones I have purchased are Seiko, the only swatch I have was a present and its battery died 4 years ago and its in the drawer.  I only use independent watch makers in Melbourne and support them where and when I can.

so in a way, I couldn't care if they keep going down this path, it won't affect me for parts. what will affect me is the inability for independent watch makers to stay in business and to also find new independent watch makers as right now there is no drive in Australia to train them.  How I would throw money at a retired watch maker that wants to pass on some of their skills and knowledge to me.

 

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Thanks for that Canthus,

Had a good read through and it seems that Swatch may have unknowingly put their foot in it for the future if these new movements from various suppliers are good quality and successful they could take over some market share.  I will be long gone before any of them become "vintage" though.

Unfortunately it will not solve the problem of getting off the shelf spares other than buying old vintage movements to butcher to gain rarer parts for watches we are trying to revive, which we have all been doing for some time.  Still I will be interested to see how things develop especially in PRC.

Cheers,

Vic

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It begs the question, what if after all this ruckus Swatch decides to come back full strength and supply parts and movements to everyone, -- as it is, right now they may be stock piling to make the move -- after the competition has spent their money tooling up and such expecting to take over? Wouldn't it be the end of Swatch competition and new grounds for it to acquire more businesses and grow in strength, both as a company and politically speaking? Buying just enough to ensure they could do anything they want in the future, with no obstacles, and still keep a semblance of competition to save face, so to speak? Or eliminating all local competition? That move will also weaken some brands in other countries...

Considering what the article says, Swatch has been forced to still do stuff they, apparently, were trying not to do...therefore, they don't have total control. Just speculating...now the question prevails, is it possible to do that?

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I don't think that ETA/Swatch group and their stock holders care a bit about the spare parts market. Their "always correct" finance dept. has told management the truth: making/stocking/selling spare parts is a loosing business. Chinese makers, in they humble practical wisdom, didn't even tried that.

I think we have to recognize things as they are: AD 2016 mechanical watches are luxury items, and repairing such watches is straight derived from that, plus leveraging on sentimental values for added profit. The leading Swiss try are just exploiting these objective conditions. Other Swiss makers like Soprod etc , just' don't sell spare parts - period.

That being said I wish the best success to any action against Swiss restrictions.

 

Edited by jdm

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I think the whole Swiss watch movement industry have just decided to throw away a whole section of their profits to the Chinese.

The Chinese are brilliant duplicators.  Send them a part to be copied and they'll copy it, down to putting on scratches that were on the original sent to them!  I have a great deal of interest in the car restoration scene as regards cars which were made in Australia.  Many parts for these vehicles are no longer made by GM-Holden or the local Ford plant (the law states that parts must be on hand for ten years for any vehicle sold in Australia...after that you are on your own).  So clever blokes and their companies have taken original parts over to China and Taiwan and had parts made to spec.  If I wanted to I could probably build a 1969 Holden Monaro (a sports derivative of the Holden of the day) using only reproduction parts.  The suppliers can even have engine blocks cast to order!

So what is going to happen is that the Chinese will cash in, big time, making parts to suit all the Swiss movements.  They'll do it at a lower cost than the Swiss with arguably the same level of workmanship.  The Swiss have, indeed, shot themselves in the foot.  Silly, very silly!

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