Effective Tuesday, March 17th at 5:00 AM local time, Rolex will shut down their factories in Geneva, Bienne, and Crissier. This move was announced in a letter addressed to all Rolex employees by CEO Jean-Frederic Dufour.
Here is a translation of Dufour’s announcement, which was originally written in French:
Sirs and Madams,
As I already said last week, we are facing a very serious situation. In order to protect you, your families, and your loves 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.
Certain services will have to remain open for imperative operational functions. Your managers will give you more details on this subject.
From now on, we ask you to respect the measures of confinement issued by our authorities in Switzerland and in France to the letter.
I am certain that this is just a difficult period and if together, we all adopt good behaviour, that we will contribute to and participate in the stabilisation of the situation, and that will allow us to get back to work in total safety as soon as possible.
Thank you for respecting the instructions of your managers in order to carry out this closing under good conditions.
Best of luck for the days to come, take care of yourselves!
Geneva, 16 March 2020
I hope that this closure will only last 10 days, but I doubt it will be that short. This further leaves uncertain the issue of releasing new watches. Baselworld, the show that Rolex has released new watches at for decades, has cancelled. Now, parts of the company are beginning to be suspended in order to help contain the spread of the virus. They may release their new models in the next couple weeks via their website, but they could also decide to push a release back until things have settled down.
New releases would be a big morale boost within the watch community during these difficult times and give everyone a nice distraction, but it’s looking more and more likely that Rolex may decide to delay any new releases.
March 18th Update: As of today, Patek Philippe, Hublot, and Audemars Piguet have also closed their factories.