Minneapolis, MN—Just as diamonds and jewelry sales have rebounded since the start of the global coronavirus pandemic, so have luxury watches. Marketplace, a division of Minnesota Public Radio, reports that luxury watch dealers and auction houses are grabbing dollars that affluent consumers normally would be spending on travel and experiences. Not only are existing collectors more focused—often spending lots of time online consuming voluminous information about various brands and models—but new consumers are being drawn into the category. Image: this Hublot watch was one of the top-grossing lots in Fortuna Auctions' August sale.
Figures from the Federation of Swiss Watch Industry says exports of watches costing more than $3,000 are essentially back to last year’s figures; down just a negligible 0.1%. Meanwhile, online buyer/seller WatchBox told Marketplace its sales are up more than 25% for the first half of 2020 over 2019, and that its sales of watches in the $50,000 to $100,000 range are up 48%. Meanwhile, Reginald Brack, a watch industry analyst with the NPD Group, told Marketplace that auction houses are reporting a big percentage of customers for luxury watch sales are new customers.
But the watch market also is a telling reflection of the emerging “K” shaped nature of the pandemic economy, where affluent consumers that haven’t been laid off are doing better than ever, but middle- and lower-income consumers are struggling more than ever. Exports of inexpensive watches (<$200) are off 43.5%, says the Swiss Watch Federation.
Separately, Hublot has overtaken Rolex as the world’s most popular luxury watch.
According to Fortitude magazine, an analysis conducted by online casino Betway says the Hublot brand accounted for 52% of Google searches. Rolex was second, but trailed Hublot by a whopping 22%. Hublot, now owned by LVMH, was founded in 1980 by Carlo Crocco.
Rolex still maintains its edge in long-term value appreciation, however. Its Daytona model averages an appreciation value of about 251%, says Fortitude.