Switzerland's fine watchmakers says they may have to put up their prices after the increase in the Swiss franc. But as Sonia Legg reports most of the high-end firms remain confident the market is dynamic enough to sustain it.
It's home to some of the world's finest watchmakers. But many taking part in this week's industry fair in Geneva believe it's time for a rethink. Four days after the national bank scrapped its cap on the Swiss franc the currency has soared against the euro hitting exporters. Francois-Henry Bennahmias is CEO from Audemars Piguet (SOUNDBITE) (English) CEO OF SWISS INDEPENDENT WATCHMAKER AUDEMARS PIGUET FRANCOIS-HENRY BENNAHMIAS SAYING: "We cannot make a decision overnight obviously, we have to wait and see what's going to happen, but, yes, at one point, we'll have to adjust prices, one way or the other, in Europe, obviously, prices will go up." The watches they now sell in the euro zone cost them 15 - 20% more to produce. But some in the industry may be reluctant to pass the whole cost onto consumers (SOUNDBITE) (English) CEO OF SWISS INDEPENDENT WATCHMAKER AUDEMARS PIGUET FRANCOIS-HENRY BENNAHMIAS SAYING: "We are not a mature industry at all, it's an industry that almost died in the 70s' and we lost pretty much ten to fifteen years of communication and education for the end consumers, so we have been doing it for the last ten years." Parmigiani's CEO Jean-Marc Jacot says the decision was brutal but necessary. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PARMIGIANI'S CEO JEAN-MARC JACOT SAYING: "We could not continue like that, we could not continue, Switzerland, to live under a bubble you know, and to think we would continue to spend billions buying euros to support the money, you know, so I think it was right." But the small to middle-sized watchmakers may not weather the storm quite so easily. Swiss Brand Watch's top officials talked of a "tsunami" that would ruin Swiss firms' competitiveness