The Rise (And Rise) Of Independents: A Live Panel Discussion From Geneva Watch Days 2021 Featuring Felix Baumgartner (Urwerk), Pierre Jacques (De Bethune), William Massena (Massena Lab), Alexandre Ghotbi (Phillips), And Elizabeth Doerr
Independent watchmakers and brands have experienced an unbelievable uptick in not only business and sales during 2021 – despite, or even perhaps because of, the pandemic – but also in recognition and general respect and understanding. And this is a brand-new position for these makers of elite and unusually artisanal watches to be in.
During Geneva Watch Days 2021, I moderated a live panel discussion hosted by Phillips, exploring in detail this new and unexpected position in the luxury watch industry, how long it has been in the making, who is exactly is benefitting (and how), and why perhaps group-owned brands have not been experiencing the same increase in sales and reputation. What this means for consumers who have now been turned on to independent watches is also discussed here – perhaps the most important aspect of all.
In addition, we explore the situations of some mid-range independent producers who work in much the same careful way, leading to thoughts, hypotheses, and explanations on why certain segments of the watch world have come out winning the pandemic and why others haven’t.
This panel is full of hard-hitting, concrete information and opinion thanks to a panel that includes Alexandre Ghotbi, Phillips’ head of Europe and Asia for watches; Felix Baumgartner, co-founder and head watchmaker of Urwerk; Pierre Jacques, CEO of De Bethune; and William Massena, founder and owner of Massena Lab.