“Maybe that was a good thing”

[Translate to English:] René Beyer blickt auf ein turbulentes Jahr zurück und wünscht sich auf ein Kreuzfahrtschiff (oder zumindest in die Ferien).

Mr Beyer, what do you want for Christmas?
I have no material desires. But I really do wish the world would come to peace. And that this corona uncertainty would be over already. Also, that people would treat each other more respectfully again and, especially in politics, the harsh tone would give way to elegant, competent and above all true arguments.

A memorable year is drawing to a close. You’re an optimist: what positive things are you taking with you into the New Year?
Before corona, greed seemed to be getting a little out of control. Everything had to go even faster, become even bigger, make even more profit. Then the bubble burst, and maybe that was a good thing. In any case, the crisis has increased my admiration for my forebears and reminded me that it could actually have been worse: previous generations of the Beyer family had to endure a war, an epidemic and an economic crisis all at the same time, lay off staff, sell their homes and fear for the future.

What can’t you wait to find out in 2021?
Whether we manage to return to a certain degree of normality without falling back into old patterns. What I don’t understand: despite the bleak prospects, people are busy booking holidays by the sea. And yet Switzerland is incredibly beautiful. I still see too few French-speakers in German-speaking Switzerland and too few German-speakers visiting French-speaking Switzerland. I wish there was more of a flow within our own country.

By year’s end, the sales of Beyer Watches & Jewellery will be at 75 to 80 percent of last year’s record: why do you think the figures have actually turned out quite well for such a turbulent year?
I wouldn’t say they’re that good. 80 percent is enough to cover the running costs and pay off the refurbishment as planned. But I’ll admit: we didn’t hit rock bottom, though that was a realistic scenario. After the lockdown we also sensed a degree of euphoria among the customers. Many probably wanted to do something good for themselves and forget the dreariness. But longer-term, it is no fun to shop for luxury in a mask. It lacks all sensuality.

Have you personally changed this year?
I’ve become more humble. Corona reveals how insignificant we all are. And how much more powerful nature is. It was a year of testing, a year of perseverance and patience. But not a year that caused you to grow and made you into a better person.

Is there anything you want to make up for next year?
Definitely: travel! I’d love to be in Vietnam, Korea or America right now. I miss enormously not being able to see the world as it is. A cruise would be nice. But I’m looking forward to a few days’ holiday in Switzerland first.

As an entrepreneur, you have to line things up for the future. So where’s the journey heading? And above all: how much longer will you be at the helm?
I’m 57, so I guess I’ll be around for seven to ten more years. With the refurbishment, we’ve doubtless reached a milestone this year; next year we’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Clock and Watch Museum; for 2022 we’re planning something bigger. But at the moment it’s difficult to summon up any feelings of joyful anticipation. The foundations of our industry are shaking. The watch industry is facing drastic changes. This is sure to affect us too, although we’re very well positioned.

Back to Christmas: how will you spend it?
Until late on Christmas Eve here in the shop: these are the most important days of the year, after all. Then, as always, with the family in Bad Ragaz, but there’ll be a lot less of us than usual. And then after that, I’ll be straight back to work: with the annual stock-taking, everything starts all over again.

Beyer Chronometrie