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I never saw it coming.

I was constantly thinking about the direction of the watch industry, about the decisions made lately by the brands – some of them good decisions, some of them not-so-good decisions, about the new watches that I was going to see in Geneva and in Basel.

But I never, not once thought about a black swan – how a virus was going to affect everything.

I thought things were bad enough for the watch industry, with the lack of direction or discernment that I was seeing lately, the lack of innovation, the lack of originality in some cases.

However, what we are seeing now, with brands preparing for the worst, is far more worrying, because it is happening at a time when the industry was already in turmoil, with many insiders complaining about a lack of direction and a tendency to focus only on the short-term profit margin, instead of a healthy, solid, well-thought long-term strategy.

I don’t know what the new virus will mean for the watch industry. It may be that the brands will finally wake up and, under pressure, will come up with a great plan. It may be that the watch fairs will disappear or that they will emerge stronger, in a new and different form. Or it may be that we will see bankruptcies and that some brands will disappear.

Obviously, I hope that the first scenario will come true.

It all remains to be seen. But I do hope that panic will not prevail and that we will be strong enough, together, to see the right way. And to walk that way. It is the only way.

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