Australian watchmakers have initiated a movement to maintain their access to Swiss-made watch parts, following the growing restriction and distribution of certain Swiss-made components to watchmakers and brands.
A report from Australian jewellery trade site Jeweller Magazine said that more than 1,000 people have signed up to the Save-The-Time initiative, which is a response to the “growing restriction of distribution of watch parts from major Swiss watch companies”.
A spokesperson from the Save-The-Time group, Nicholas Hacko, told the Jeweller that several watchmakers – one of whom had been working for more than 50 years – had their accounts for Swiss watch parts closed on April 1.
Hacko said the watchmakers decided “enough was enough” and took to the internet to seek support, launching a website to push their case. Since then, in just three weeks, the group has received support from more than 1,000 people.
The petition will be taken to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in an attempt “to force the Swiss watch companies to share the parts required to repair watches”.
Hacko told Jeweller Magazine: “We had been expecting maybe 150, so we didn’t really expect the support to the level we have received.
“As a consumer this means you no longer have the option of taking your watch to an independent watch maker to get a second opinion. The Swiss brands are taking full advantage of that because it means they can now charge whatever they want because everything becomes compulsory. If you take a watch in for crystal replacement because it is scratched they will want you to get an overhaul and bracelet re-polishing, new clasp, and you can’t go to someone else and get a second opinion.”
He said the loss of skilled independent watchmakers meant many vintage watches were now becoming irreparable because many of the original makers were refusing to repair them beyond a certain age, while restriction of distribution or parts by a range of Swiss watch companies was forcing many watchmakers out of business.
The Save-The-Time initiative is encouraging watch retailers, jewellers and watch enthusiasts to go to the group’s website and read their arguments and if they agreed with them to also sign the petition in support.
“Other countries are looking at this and waiting for the result,” Hacko said. “We believe there is a way to force Swiss manufacturers to conduct their business in a more acceptable way in Australia. They might say this is how we do business in Switzerland, well that’s fine, but you are not welcome behave like a bully in Australia.”