By Harlan Chapman-Green
So, since 2008, Hong Kong has been surging forwards as the largest market for luxury watches with many events now being held there in accordance with their newfound passion for the ticking beauties. However the world does not stand still and our lives revolve completely around time (though believe me some people seem to think differently), as we know times change often even right at the top of the chain.
The global economy changes rapidly when certain events occur and this year has had quite a few shakes already such as the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union, the Olympics and even the release of the Apple Watch. The report from the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry for July has shown us that the USA is back at the top of the list as the largest market after taking the crown from Hong Kong which, incidentally, took said crown from the USA in 2008 and had held it ever since. Interestingly at the peak of its boom, the Swiss watch industry exported 1 quarter of all its watches produced to Hong Kong.
Interestingly while neither the USA nor Hong Kong has shown us any real increases in the numbers the USA has lost far less of its market share than Hong Kong has (it’s around 15% for the USA while Hong Kong’s is nearly double at 33%). The president of IWC North America had this to say about the surprising turn of events: “I think overall the Asian market still has a lot of potential. In turbulent times, like what the whole industry is going through today, the U.S. is the market with the safest situation because we don’t depend on tourism. It has always been and will always be about the local clientele. We’ve never relied on tourism. It’s very important.”
The other effect that this has is on the sales of the metals that watches are made of. While there will always be those vying for their dream solid gold Rolex watch (or a rose gold Breguet in my case), the fact of the matter is that in the long term it affects the sale of watches depending on what they’re made of. Steel watches have only fallen by about 10% (considering the amount of steel watches made that’s not a whole lot), while precious metal watches precious metal watches are down by 31% while two-tone steel and gold watches are sat slap bang in the middle at 22%. We can’t wait to see what results from this change, but don’t worry, your favourite companies are unlikely to be going anywhere!