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Anthony Cousins Letter

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1 hour ago, stroppy said:

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!  

True, for things that are worth. But the vast majority of watch parts sell for  $2 - 10 and are not fast movers. Who wants to invest tens of thousands to be kept in stock for some 30 years. 

I for one wish the Chinese will provide good replacement parts for ETA/Swatch group parts, but I don't think that will ever. Just like they not provide  parte for Rolex, although they the complete fake for $400.

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1 hour ago, stroppy said:

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!

True, for things that are worth. But the vast majority of watch parts sell for  $2 - 10 and are not fast movers. Who wants to invest tens of thousands to be kept on shelved for some 30 years. 

I for one wish the Chinese will provide good replacement parts for ETA/Swatch group parts, but I don't think that will ever happen. Just like they not provide  parte for Rolex, although they sell complete fake for $400.

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Just now, jdm said:

True, for things that are worth. But the vast majority of watch parts sell for  $2 - 10 and are not fast movers. Who wants to invest tens of thousands to be kept on shelved for some 30 years. 

I for one wish the Chinese will provide good replacement parts for ETA/Swatch group parts, but I don't think that will ever happen. Just like they not provide  parte for Rolex, although they sell complete fake for $400.

Believe it or not they already do stockpile parts.  They live off small sales adding up to big sales.  In other words, they'll sell a part worth a dollar to make for three bucks.  Okay...it doesn't sell right away but it will, eventually, sell.  In the meantime they also stock stuff which sells quickly like band lugs.  You can buy a box of a few hundred multi-size lugs for about $AU7 which is cheap compared to buying Swiss stuff BUT it only cost the Chinese supplier 50c ex-factory.  So they are making their own mark-ups which props up the rest of their slower-moving stock.  It's exactly how the reproduction car parts guys make their living.

BTW, the quality of the replacement parts for cars is identical to the original part in most cases.  Sometimes it is even better quality.  Car badges, for example, were knocked out by the original manufacturers at a high rate with variable paint and chroming.  The Chinese copies are well plated and beautifully-painted.

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1 minute ago, stroppy said:

Believe it or not they already do stockpile parts.  They live off small sales adding up to big sales.  In other words, they'll sell a part worth a dollar to make for three bucks.  Okay...it doesn't sell right away but it will, eventually, sell.  In the meantime they also stock stuff which sells quickly like band lugs.  You can buy a box of a few hundred multi-size lugs for about $AU7 which is cheap compared to buying Swiss stuff BUT it only cost the Chinese supplier 50c ex-factory.  

You are talking about generic parts, knock-off tools, cases, glasses etc, which are relatively fast moving items. I do buy these myself as well computer cables, etc. that cost 10 times as much in local shops. What I'm saying is they they will not make e.g. "third wheel and pinion for ETA2982-2" or mainspring for the same. And forget about balances. These need an accuracy and quality that is way above the realm or goal of a Chinese manufacturer.

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15 minutes ago, jdm said:

And forget about balances. These need an accuracy and quality that is way above the realm or goal of a Chinese manufacturer.

Don't kid yourself, they are well capable of making the very highest quality items.  I have a couple of Chinese watches that can easily match Swiss stuff.  

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12 minutes ago, Geo said:

Don't kid yourself, they are well capable of making the very highest quality items.  I have a couple of Chinese watches that can easily match Swiss stuff.  

Especially their top makers such as Peacock, Beijing Watch Factory and SeaGull.

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32 minutes ago, Geo said:

Don't kid yourself, they are well capable of making the very highest quality items.  I have a couple of Chinese watches that can easily match Swiss stuff.  

Absolutely. All what I'm saying is that I don't believe they will market spare parts for Swiss movements. We can check here again in one year or five to see if I'm wrong.

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I've no idea whether the will or won't make replacement parts for Swiss movement, I was only saying that they are well capable of doing it if they want to.  Let's hope they do.

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Cousins and Swatch head to the Courts
527fdbed-f661-4095-aab7-752b9a331bc7.jpg

Cousins and Swatch head to the Courts

An announcement from Anthony Cousins, Managing Director

All those involved in the Independent Repair Trade are being seriously threatened by the parts embargo by Swatch. Cousins customers will know that we have been very active in fighting to restore supply. Cousins is currently vigorously engaged in court proceedings against the Swatch group which is trying to challenge Cousins’ allegations of anti-competitive conduct.

The last 18 months have been an incredibly steep learning curve for me. I have had to learn far more about Competition Law than I ever imagined the owner of a small business would need to do. Engaging and working with major international Law Firms, and getting to grips with judicial processes in different jurisdictions has also added to the load.

Initially, Cousins attempted to have this matter examined in the European Courts by requesting permission to become an Intervener in the on-going case between CEAHR and the EU Commission. Unsurprisingly, the Commission objected to this idea, and despite an appeal to a higher court, our application was unsuccessful. At the same time as this process was taking place, I have been very active with the Industry Action Fund, including attending a meeting at the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, which in turn led to a referral to the Competition and Markets Authority.

As our understanding of the Law and how to implement it grew, it became very clear that direct legal action was the necessary way to resolve this matter, and once we had exhausted all opportunities to be an Intervener with CEAHR, our London lawyers sent the required “Letter Before Action” to Swatch Group warning them that unless they restored supply, we would issue proceedings against them in the English Courts.

Swatch decided not to face us in an English Court, but instead launched their own action against Cousins in a Swiss Commercial Court, in an attempt to have that Court declare that they have not broken competition law. Cousins has engaged the services of a highly reputable Swiss Law Firm, and we are now preparing our response to the Court. We hope that the Independent Repair sector will take heart from our efforts, and give their support in gathering the industry and consumer information that will be needed.

Anthony Cousins
Managing Director, Cousins Material House Ltd.

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On 11/18/2015 at 4:12 PM, clockboy said:

Yes, an interesting letter. I was not aware that its is illegal not to supply parts in the USA. I have said this many times but will say it again the Archilles heal for Swatch & the Swiss is if the general buying public become aware

It maybe illegal but from a recent conversation with Seiko USA customer service they claimed that do not supply parts to non official watchmakers.  

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I'm not sure if I understand this correctly but Cousin will still sue Swatch in the UK beside defending themselves in Switzerland? Seems an expensive effort, hope they can at least offset these expenses on their balance sheet, and good luck anyway.

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Dear Guild Members,

 

The whole trade - not just Guild members - have been asking the Board what is happening with the Guild's spares initiative.  As many of you will know, the Board has been putting pressure on Swatch and trying by all means at our disposal to make common sense prevail.  The Board still feel that the parts embargo is a great mistake and will lose public goodwill built up over many decades by the Swiss watch industry.  However, Swatch still refuse to see sense and it has reached the stage that Court action is the only avenue left to advance the cause and protect members, and indeed the trade worldwide.

 

The Guild was not in a position to instigate this action itself for several reasons.  The two main reasons being that even with the IAF contributions, funding was not available from our membership to cover Court costs and the evidence gathering which would be necessary.  Secondly, the case would need to be brought by an individual or company who could prove the financial damage caused to them personally by the Swiss action.  It was therefore decided that the company best placed to take things forward would be Anthony Cousins of Cousins UK Limited.  Anthony has been involved in trying to keep the spares supply chain open for many years and has been a major funder of the Guild's spares initiative from the beginning.  At great personal risk and expense, Anthony will take the fight to the Courts and the Guild will continue to push for access to spares, and we urge all members and importantly, the other material houses, to assist in any way possible.

 

Those of you who have been in contact with Steve Domb through our IAF scheme will be interested to know that Steve, for the time being, is assisting Anthony with preparations for the case.

 

We are happy to forward on to you a press release from Anthony regarding the current situation, and the Guild will be offering as much assistance as we can for what is going to be a long and protracted fight.  Members of the trade can rest assured that the Guild will continue the struggle and will not rest until a reasonable result is achieved.

 

Regards - Chris Papworth

Chairman

The British Watch & Clock Makers' Guild

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1 hour ago, jdm said:

I'm not sure if I understand this correctly but Cousin will still sue Swatch in the UK beside defending themselves in Switzerland? Seems an expensive effort, hope they can at least offset these expenses on their balance sheet, and good luck anyway.

I'm no legal expert, but I imagine a favourable outcome in the Swiss courts would bolster the case in the UK. A negative outcome could possibly weaken a case brought in the UK.

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Here is my latest,

Industry Action Fund Update 5 July 2016

Dear Contributor,

 

It is four months since I wrote to you last with any form of update on progress, and I am aware that my last communication left things on something of a ‘cliff hanger’. Happily I am now able to bring you up to date, and I am sure you will be pleased with the news.

 

If you have not already seen it, attached is a copy of an announcement released yesterday by Cousins Material House in regard to legal action they are engaged in with Swatch Group. Part of the reason that Cousins has gone to law comes from what we learned from the research that I did whilst funded by the IAF, also from the meeting that I organised with the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), and the subsequent advice we had from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

 

Our original intention with the IAF was to fund an industry survey, so that ultimately we would have the necessary data to present a credible formal complaint to the CMA about restrictive practices in our trade, and ask them to investigate what we believe are clear breaches of British and EU law. However, circumstances changed in two ways, and a vastly superior path opened to us.

 

Firstly, the act of setting up the IAF and asking people to contribute produced a substantial quantity of relevant evidence and intelligence. Much of my time was taken up sifting this and learning about precisely what the relevant law was, and what had gone on so far. This was the work that enabled me to assemble the dossier that we took to BIS, and their subsequent referral of us direct to the CMA meant that we had achieved the access to the regulator that we had been after far faster than we had originally thought we could, and without having done the survey first.

 

Secondly, and in parallel with this work, Cousins Material House and their solicitors were consulting a top London Barrister in regard to their application to the EU Courts to become an Intervener in the on-going case between CEAHR and the EU Commission. With both Anthony and Sam Cousins being members of the IAF Management Team, it made eminent sense to all of us to combine our efforts, and share the dossier we had given to BIS with the Barrister, and obtain some valuable legal advice in return.

 

What emerged from all this was a very effective team that quickly grasped the legal fundamentals of the case, and as the course of action that Cousins is now on became ever increasingly likely, the IAF Management Team took the decision to make the project dormant. It was apparent to all of us that a direct legal challenge to Swatch is likely to be far faster in achieving the end objective than asking the CMA to take the matter on. Therefore, since the start of this year, I have been contracted as a full time Consultant to Cousins, using the knowledge that we have gained to support the preparations for the action that they are now engaged in.

 

Whilst the IAF for now is dormant, I remain the Project Manager, and along with the Management Team we stand ready to reactivate the Fund should it be needed further down the line. The remainder of the funds raised are (as they have always been) safely in the Bank Account under the stewardship of the Guild. I am grateful to all of you for your support, and I am sure that you will agree that as the effective result of your unity and generosity is this matter being heard in a court, then your money has been well spent.

 

I continue to work full time with Cousins on the fight for free and fair competition in this market, and will try and update you as and how I am able. You are welcome to contact me as before, my telephone number remains the same as +44 (0)7831 538975. If you wish to email me, please do so to my business address which is steven@thinkplanwin.com .

 

Thank you for having supported this effort.

Kind regards

 

Steven Domb

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Sorry I missed the attachment but here it is

Obviously this is an important action for Cousins and will perhaps set a precedent if they are successful, I personally as an interested bystander wish them all the best and congratulate them  for having the courage, conviction and resolve to take the matter further.

Regards,

Vic

Edited by Vich
Paste of Cousins letter did not work

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Cousins and Swatch head to the Courts
An announcement from Anthony Cousins, Managing Director
All those involved in the Independent Repair Trade are being seriously threatened by the parts embargo by Swatch. Cousins customers will know that we have been very active in fighting to restore supply. Cousins is currently vigorously engaged in court proceedings against the Swatch group which is trying to challenge Cousins’ allegations of anti-competitive conduct.
The last 18 months have been an incredibly steep learning curve for me. I have had to learn far more about Competition Law than I ever imagined the owner of a small business would need to do. 
Engaging and working with major international Law Firms, and getting to grips with judicial processes in different jurisdictions has also added to the load. Initially, Cousins attempted to have this matter examined in the European Courts by requesting permission to become an Intervener in the on-going case between CEAHR and the EU Commission. Unsurprisingly, the Commission objected to this idea, and despite an appeal to a higher court, our application was unsuccessful. At the same time as this process was taking place, I have been very active with the Industry Action Fund, including attending a meeting at the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, which in turn led to a referral to the Competition and Markets Authority. 
As our understanding of the Law and how to implement it grew, it became very clear that direct legal action was the necessary way to resolve this matter, and once we had exhausted all opportunities to be an Intervener with CEAHR, our London lawyers sent the required “Letter Before Action” to Swatch Group warning them that unless they restored supply, we would issue proceedings against them in the English Courts. 
Swatch decided not to face us in an English Court, but instead launched their own action against Cousins in a Swiss Commercial Court, in an attempt to have that Court declare that they have not broken competition law. Cousins has engaged the services of a highly reputable Swiss Law Firm, and we are now preparing our response to the Court. We hope that the Independent Repair sector will take 
heart from our efforts, and give their support in gathering the industry and consumer information that will be needed.

Anthony Cousins

Sorry about the wait, PDF would not upload but I converted it and here it is.

Regards,

Vic

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Hmm....

 

Ive seen this ALL before.....

Not concerning Watches, but TV Sets/Brown-Goods, my actual profession.--Repairing these since leaving school in the early 80's....

I wish you well, I Really do--But ultimately you'll fail I believe.

Cant beat multinationals and Governments. The TV Repair trade failed. How many TV repair places do you see now--Proper Independent ones? Practically None, There's myself and one other in my city. 30 years ago, there were 30-40 odd, plus all the amateurs.

Issues--Spares restriction to Appointed Service-Centre Networks. Inability to get ANY kind of service information/manuals/schematcs etc complete restrictive practice, plus Throw-Away mentality of people.,...

Sounds familiar? This all started about 20 odd years ago, around the time that supermarkets started selling TV's etc, with the Brown-Goods repair-trade, Then the Koreans, Samsung and (As they were known then) Lucky-Goldstar -L.G. put the final nails in. There were some parts supplier third-party Co's (Like your Cousins) who could get limited supplies from certain European makers but Schematics etc were always restricted, generally makers only offering complete assemblies/Circuit-Boards at exorbitant costs, making the repair unviable....

I still do OK repairing TV sets down to component level usually, But I work in a rather unorthodox way and place--A Recycling Centre--Not something a Watch Repairer could do The Noise and dust would send most of you scampering up the nearest tree!!

TV sets USED to be made with an expected built life-span of 8 years assuming 4-6 hours/day useage.

They are currently Built TO LAST ONLY 18 MONTHS before they crap out and you cant get the thing repaired--No Independents around anymore except maybe the odd nutter like me still plodding on!!

What does consumer do?--Consumes (Buys) another TV set and tosses the old broken one--Great for the Makers, They win all ways!

Rant Over.

 

Edited by Alastair

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Hello Alastair and welcome to the forum,

You paint a bleak picture and regrettably I can see some of the parrallels you are referring to and in many ways our efforts are both in in the same mindset ie fixing old stuff. There are some differences in the likes of "schematics" for instance we have valuable teardowns of various watches available and being produced on a regular basis by the likes of Watchguy and our own Mark and others. The built in obsolescence is probably restricted to the low end quartz watches as even the likes of old      mechanical dollar watches produced in the USA have their supporters.  I still think that at the worst there may be some intervention from China and at best can only hope that Anthony is successful in his venture.

I am regularly looking at watches over 50 - 70 years old and in the worst case scenarios like many others look to the purchase of second watches of the same model for spares which may be close to what you are doing in a recycling environment, though there can't be many monochrome tv's in regular use other than by collectors or hobbyist types, I would have thought.  The important Accutrons parts, which I share an interest with you about, like new coils, as you know, are simply not available from any supplier anyway  . However, I personally am not working on any mechanical watches worth more than a few hundred pounds and it is older "technology" whereas TV's  are evolving continuously and dramatically to the point where they are internally probably not even close  to the older types. 

I have tremendous respect for those like yourself doing work that I can barely comprehend, it is good to know that no matter what you will be occasionally turning your skills  towards the horological which can only be of benefit to the rest of us but of course I am a "glass half full type" and hope for the best.

Regards,

Vic

 

Edited by Vich
Changes to Accutron reference

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Thanks for the welcome, Vitch, Sounds as though we have similar outlooks!

Its such a short-sighted policy that Swatch, --and whatever other conglomerates are involved are pursuing  IMHO.

No independent Servicing means no independent service engineers, therefore the knowledge-base shrinks to practically nothing.

No knowledge base and therefore no new interest from youngsters etc--so no new workers for Swatch ultimately, as the throw-away society carries on regardless buying new when the batt in their current watch runs out!

Appointed Stealers are gonna find it hard to recruit from the general populace as there'll be no interest by any of them in repairing anything--Just like the TV trade is now.

They are Really shooting themselves in the **BLEEP**--All for a quick buck--because Thats what it all boils down to, NOTHING to do with Cust Service or Quality which are their Excuses for doing it....

Another Very Worrying aspect is Education. The Current Electronics degree courses don't even teach you how a Transistor, Diode, resistor or a capacitor works! The Fundamental Building-Blocks of any/all electronics.

Its ALL Digital square boxes or software --as in Block-Diagrams, no-one seeming to care What makes up the contents of the box, or how the software controls it....

They are Screaming out for 'Analogue Engineers' who do know this stuff, I regularly get calls from employment-agencies asking if I want a job...

I still think Thermionic Valves are a pretty neat idea and still build amplifiers with them!--Then again, I'm an old duffer!.

I'm sure there's other professions where the knowledge-drain is happening in much the same way. This is a Problem. A HUGE Global Problem and MUCH bigger knock-on issue than an organisation just not supplying parts for its products.

Edited by Alastair

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