Swiss watchmaker Greubel Forsey cuts price of entry-level Signature 1 watch in half

Greubel Forsey, the Swiss watchmaker that produces about 100 timepieces a year, has reduced its entry-level price by half in an attempt to attract more customers as the industry faces the first annual exports decline since 2009.

At the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) watch fair in Geneva on Monday, Greubel Forsey chief operations officer David Bernard announced the range's new starting price is 150,000 Swiss francs ($217,322), down from last year's 298,000 francs. Greubel Forsey watches cost about 480,000 francs ($695,000) on average, and can reach as much as 1.5 million francs.

The price cut illustrates the challenges facing the Swiss watch industry, which is preparing for a fourth straight year of little-to-no growth amid weak demand in Asia.

"It was a good idea also that we could decrease the price for being attentive to some clients who can't afford a watch of 300,000 francs," Bernard said in an interview at the Geneva watch salon. "Many can't even afford a 100,000-franc watch. They look at Greubel Forsey and say, 'No way, I can't afford it'."

The company's 170,000-franc Signature 1 timepiece is available in rose gold, white gold and platinum. It has been produced without using new technology, and doesn't have the complicated watch mechanisms known as tourbillons, Bernard says. The Signature 1 line also comes in steel for 150,000 francs, though on demand only.

To view Bloomberg watch expert Stephen Pulvirent's top five watches from the prestigious SIHH salon, click the gallery above.