GENEVA (BLOOMBERG) – Booming demand for Rolex watches and a lack of sufficient supply are driving interest in other luxury timepieces, the head of retailer Watches of Switzerland Group said.
Sales of Swiss luxury brands Rolex, Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet saw only “modest” increases in the retailer’s 2022 fiscal year, largely due to scarcity of the most sought-after timepieces, said general manager Hugh Brian Duffy in an interview. This sparked interest in other premium brands.
“We more than doubled our increases with them,” Mr. Duffy said, citing Cartier of Richemont, Omega of the Swatch Group, Tag Heuer of LVMH, sister brand Rolex Tudor and independent Breitling.
The retailer, which has 171 stores across the UK and US, said demand for certain Cartier and Tudor models was now causing further supply issues.
“We can’t get enough of Santos,” Mr. Duffy said of the Cartier pilot’s watch. “We can’t get enough of Tudor,” especially the brand’s chronograph models, he added.
Luxury watch sales surged during the Covid-19 pandemic as cash-rich consumers directed funds typically spent on travel and entertainment towards high-end timepieces. Retailers took advantage of surging sales online and in stores once they reopened.
Watches of Switzerland’s full-year revenue increased 40% to £1.24 billion (S$2.13 billion) at constant exchange rates, the company announced on Wednesday (May 18). It projects revenues of £1.45-1.5 billion for 2023.
Prices for Rolexes and some other luxury Swiss brands are beginning to plateau or decline slightly on the second-hand market after a feverish rise. Despite this effect and the hit of falling stocks and cryptocurrencies, Duffy said retail demand for Rolex, Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet watches continues to outstrip supply.
“The demand is just above the scale for these brands. We would love to have more of them,” he said.