Breaking News: Swatch Group Half-Year Profit Plunges

The largest Swiss watchmaker announced a sharp fall in sales and 50 to 60 per cent drop in profits for the first half of 2016.

In a prelude to the publications of its half-year results next week, the Swatch Group has put out advance warning to investors. Sales are expected to be 12 per cent lower, driven by declining demand in Hong Kong, France and Switzerland, says the owner of brands like Omega and Longines.

Hong Kong’s poor performance has already become a fixture, driven by the two-year old anti-corruption campaign in China that has put a stop to bingeing on luxury watches. The dwindling sales in Europe, on the other hand, are the result of falling tourist arrivals due to fears of terrorism.

Net profit will be down 50 to 60 per cent, pushed by the drop in sales but also a high cost base. The Swatch Group has refused to cut costs by cutting employees or prices, with chief executive Nick Hayek (pictured above) arguing that these will stand it in good stead once the market recovers.

One bright spot are sales in mainland China, which are growing, driven in part by the strict import taxes on watches bought overseas. This has spurred Chinese consumers to buy timepieces domestically.

The bad news sent Swatch Group stock down by as much as 14 per cent, to the lowest in six years. Shares in its rivals, Richemont and LVMH, followed suit. So it’s not just watches that are getting cheaper, its makers are too.

Source: Swatch Group

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Introducing the Piaget Polo S, an Entry-Level Sports Watch That Looks Familiar…

Priced under US$10,000, the Polo S is Piaget's salvo in the accessible-luxury price segment that's all the rage now.

The original Piaget Polo introduced in 1979 was a 1980s status symbol of sorts, typically yellow gold and distinguished by the horizontal bars across the dial and bracelet, the sort of watch you might have seen on a millionaire in Marbella. That look is somewhat retro now, even after several facelifts. So the new Polo S sports a completely different style, characterised by a cushion-shaped dial inside a roundish case – a look that might be somewhat familiar.

Being the new entry-level watch in Piaget’s line-up, the Polo S is stainless steel and 42mm in diameter. Two models are available – both are the same size – an automatic with date, as well as a chronograph. Several dial colours are available, but all have the same stamped horizontal pinstripe guilloche.

Piaget Polo S automatic

The automatic is powered by the calibre 1110P, while inside the chronograph is the calibre 1160P. Both are in-house automatic movements, being based on the existing calibres 800P and 880P respectively. Piaget has yet to provide extra details, but it’s certain that the movements inside the Polo S are dialled down in terms of extraneous decoration in order to accommodate the price.

Piaget Polo S chronograph

Pricing and availability  

The Polo S automatic costs US$9350 or S$15,500, while the chronograph is priced at US$12,400 or S$20,600. It will be available from Piaget boutiques and retailers starting September 2016.

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