It looks like the clock has stopped for one of Switzerland’s most iconic watchmakers.
In a letter delivered to employees Monday evening, Rolex CEO Jean-Frederic Dufour announced that the company’s production facilities in Geneva and other Swiss cities will close for 10 days effective immediately in response to the worsening Covid-19 pandemic. Rolex is the first major Swiss watch manufacturer to announce such a move.
Dufour’s letter, translated from French, read in part, “In order to protect you, your families, and your loved ones, but also to limit the risks of spreading the Coronavirus as much as possible, we have decided to close our production sites in Geneva, Bienne and Crissier from March 17 at 5:00 PM through Friday, March 27, 2020. That date may, of course, be pushed back according to the evolution of the epidemic.”
It may be the first brand of its kind to take the precaution, but Rolex is also in a unique position to do so seeing as it’s widely considered the most valuable brand in the industry. Its timepieces are among the priciest sold at auction and even its name functions as a kind of shorthand for a particular strata of lifestyle.
Cases of the novel coronavirus in Switzerland are swiftly on the rise, though they remain far behind the number of cases in neighboring Italy. So far, the small nation recognized for its superior watchmaking apparatus has 2,200 confirmed cases as of March 16th compared to Italy’s nearly 28,000 and France’s 5,380. On Monday, the government officially declared a state of emergency with all restaurants, shops and entertainment facilities ordered to shut, excluding grocery stores, pharmacies and other healthcare facilities.
Dufour continued in his internal note stressing the importance of cooperation at home and abroad. “I am certain that this is just a difficult period and if together, we all adopt good behavior, that we will contribute to and participate in the stabilization of the situation, and that will allow us to get back to work in total safety as soon as possible.”