A few weeks after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, watch brands reacted decisively to the cessation of operations in Russia. According to the Swiss Watch Federation (FH), an industry group that tracks exports, Russia is the 17th largest market for Swiss brands. This number obviously does not include non-Swiss watchmakers, and the reality for some brands will be different. For the big names in Swiss watchmaking, including groups such as Richemont and Swatch Group which own non-Swiss brands, all have reacted to the crisis by withdrawing from the status quo in the Russian market.
Rolex confirmed Bloomberg that no watch was delivered after the start of the invasion; all models currently on sale in Russian boutiques are sold by independent retailers and players. Patek Philippe has also confirmed that it is temporarily suspending all shipments to Russia; it was in a report of WatchPro.com, which extensively covers this developing story. The site even reported that it was the subject of an alleged Russian hack due to its reporting. In any case, some brands have publicly commented on this, and not just with a few news outlets, Breitling CEO Georges Kern noting that he took part in the first public demonstration of his adult life on this issue, during of an anti-war rally. in Zürich.
Linde Werdelin raises funds for the British Red Cross crisis appeal in Ukraine with the creation and sale of a special edition three time zone watch, the 3 Timer Ukraine. It is priced at 5,500 GBP, limited to 33 pieces. You can register your interest here: [email protected]
“One can only hope (although it is hard to believe) that the Russian government will regain its humanity and call for an end to these atrocities while there is still time. Even if there is nothing Linde Werdelin can do to change this, we cannot ignore it and move on as if it doesn’t concern us,” Linde Werdelin said in a statement.
Along the same lines, the watch collecting community RedBar is holding an auction called #WatchFamforUkraine Solidarity raise funds for the benefit of World Central Kitchen (WCK); WCK runs programs for refugees in and around Ukraine. RedBar is working with our peers at Revolution, and we heard the news via WatchBox’s Tim Mosso, whose very own Sinn EZM 1.1 Mission Timer watch will be on the block. It’s a watch you can’t buy, but you can win, as Mosso notes in his Youtube video ad on #WatchFamforUkraine Solidarity.
In less positive news, we have received unconfirmed reports that gray market traders have gone to Russia looking for bargains, but found little or none. This marks a new low for these types of traders, but it has happened before, so there are precedents. That aside, retailers usually have all their stock, so it’s likely that there will still be some luxury watches on sale in Russia in the short term. After Watches & Wonders, it seems unlikely that new stock will head to Russia – even if the war ends and sanctions are lifted, things won’t immediately return to pre-war levels.
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