“2020 was not our best year, but it was okay,” shrugs Patek Philippe president Thierry Stern.
The analysis has the insouciance of a man who knows that the family firm has been through worse than the pandemic, and once again emerged as strong as ever.
In an interview with Andrea Martel at Swiss newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ), Mr Stern (pictured top) reveals that Patek Philippe had to close production for two months, less than other Swiss watchmakers, and after the shut down were able to return to normal production levels.
In a decision welcomed by Patek Philippe authorised dealers, the watchmaker also decided to postpone most new models until 2021. “We decided to continue with proven models,” he says.
By the end of 2020, Patek Philippe sales were down by around one fifth, having lost one sixth of its production days in the year.
“At the end of the year, we were a good 20% down in terms of sales, but that’s not a problem because as a long-standing family business, you’re prepared for such things and have reserves,” Mr Stern describes.
Putting the covid crisis into context, Mr Stern recalls: “My father has experienced two crises in which business suddenly plummeted by 50%.”