Swiss watchmakers so far see no signs that geopolitical tensions and recession fears are hitting demand for luxury watches, executives told Reuters ahead of the Geneva Watch Days event which opened on Monday.
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Sales of Swiss watches rebounded strongly from the 2020 pandemic crisis, with the value of exports increasing by 11.4% in the first seven months of 2022.
“For now, people’s mood remains positive. How long will this last? We don’t know,” said Jean-Christophe Babin, head of the jewelry and watch brand. LVMH Bulgari.
He said Bulgari was gaining market share, seeing “much stronger” growth in its watch business than the rate of Swiss watch exports.
While there were many reasons for alarm over the past two years, including the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and inflation, “watch exports are nevertheless close to historic highs”, Edouard Meylan, head of the independent watch brand H. Moser & Cie, dit.
“We have to take advantage of it while it lasts, but we have to be prepared for a downturn,” he said, adding that sales had risen by more than a quarter so far this year, with some bottlenecks. throttling for watch cases and bracelets.
Around 40 brands will take part this year in Geneva Watch Days, an informal industry gathering launched in 2020 where exhibitions are held in hotels and boutiques across the city, making it more accessible than the exclusive Watches & Wonders fair. of spring.
Although not attending this year’s event, Guido Terreni, managing director of niche brand Parmigiani owned by the Sandoz Family Foundation, said the brand was unable to meet the demand that had multiplied by 4.5 compared to last year.
Asked when it would break even, Terreni, a former Bulgari executive, said, “We’re getting there.”
The market for new watches remained robust with waiting lists for many models, said US retailer Danny Govberg, also co-founder and chairman of watch marketplace WatchBox, echoing comments from UK retailer Watches of Switzerland this month. -this.
Govberg noted, however, that secondary market prices have fallen.
“The disparity between retail prices and what watches are actively traded for has narrowed from their all-time highs in early spring 2022, since stabilizing,” he said in a comment. by e-mail.
Kepler Cheuvreux analyst Jon Cox said if second-hand watch prices fall significantly below primary prices it could hurt demand for new watches, but that apparently hasn’t been the case until recently. now.
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