Its sidewalk Bond Street in London is still quiet. The one-time UK hub for international tourists seeking to drop huge sums of money on luxury watches relied on many smaller domestic markets, with shoppers more likely to find that one particular purchase than to splash generous amounts of cash around.
Despite being centered in an expert niche, the world of luxury watches has always been external, its brand names are a language that can be understood wherever you are in the world. But the Covid-19 has changed that, perhaps for the long haul.
Faced with a lockdown last year, many high-profile brands, including Ademars Pigeon, Hermes and Rolex, have stopped production altogether to focus on existing stock transfers. Swiss watch exports decline.
But a lot can change in one year. In June 2021, the Federation of Swiss Watch Industry, the industry’s leading trade body, reported that exports were approximately CHF 2 billion ($ 2.15 billion), exceeding the 2019 baseline by 12.5 percent and representing a 71 percent increase over June 2020. Shares of Richemont Group (whose brands include Cartier, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, and Montblanc) have risen significantly. The share price of Swatch Group (Omega, Hamilton, Teesta and more) has seen a return to pre-epidemic levels. The Swiss watch, a UK-based retailer that has expanded into the U.S. market and is listed on the LSE in 2019, has seen its price rise 78 percent in the last six months to a record high.
It’s not just that the normal name is doing well. The pre-owned market, formerly a pariah in the world of luxury watches, is growing. One of its biggest players, Cronox, was expected to launch an IPO in October in hopes of raising 24 247 million, but the plans were put on hold, citing unfavorable market conditions. Chronox has teamed up with European companies across various sectors to plan on the ice amid the volatility of the global equity market, thanks to rising energy prices and unexpected inflation. Once the company lists, however, rival pre-owned watch marketplace Chrono24 is expected to follow suit.
“I’m not surprised at how quickly consumers embrace pre-ownership,” said Philip Mann, CEO and co-founder of Cronox. “This growth in demand is driven by the next generation of consumers, who have a definition of luxury and a new way of shopping.” Mann describes this new consumer as someone who wants direct access to even the most sought-after models and demands immediate availability কিছু something that can be read as an indirect critique of brands like Patek and Rolex, with long waiting lists, lack of norms, and -Surprisingly -there is no live ecommerce channel. Mann says the future of the industry is in the hands of Generation Y and Generation Z (or Zuma) customers, who are digitally aware and certainly expect an online presence of the brands.