Results of 2020: The Biggest Brands in the Watch Industry

Actually, everything is clear already from the name of the analytical study prepared by the Swiss branch of the Morgan Stanley investment bank and the Zurich consulting company LuxeConsult, whose head Oliver Mueller annually collects, in principle, closed figures on sales volumes and earnings of giants of the watch industry.

Oliver Müller, founder, and president of LuxeConsult

The report on the results of last year is titled simply: King Rolex, “King Rolex”. If the bank employed people of a slightly more romantic nature, they would probably give their report the name of the well-known composition The Winner Takes It All, “The Winner Takes It All”. Since the content of the study is about this. But, in addition to Rolex, there are some other beneficiaries in the report, we will slightly paraphrase the ABBA group. And would say “Winners take it all”, that is, the winners take everything.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner.

Who’s the Winner?

So who should be considered the winners? All brands, which is an unprecedented year, among whose “surprises” were unscheduled quarantine of manufactures and boutiques. And the termination of intercontinental tourism managed to keep the drop in revenue and production below the same market average of 21% and 33%, respectively.

And, of course, those few who not only fell but even increased their indicators compared to the prosperous 2019 year.

Top 50 Swiss Watch Brands by Revenue in 2020.

Among the top 50 (ranked by revenue) of Swiss brands, there were only two of them. These are Tudor, which increased revenue and sales by 26% and 9.5%. And Breitling, which grew more modestly (9% and 5.5%, respectively), but also showed positive dynamics in a falling market.

Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight

The success of Tudor, part of the Rolex group, coupled with the strong performance of the main brand (more about them below), led to the fact that in 2020 the group’s market share in the global market reached 26.8%.

Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight

According to this indicator, it for the first time bypassed the monstrous Swatch Group with all its 16 brands (25.2%; at the end of 2019, the Swatch Group accounted for 27.5% of the market, Rolex and Tudor – 24.8%).

As strange as it may sound to some, the Rolex group is now the world’s largest player in the Swiss watch market.

Cartier Santos de Cartier XL

In single digits (less than 10%), sales of Cartier watches (-2%, but -11% in revenue), the Swatch brand (-3%) decreased in the ill-fated 2020, but at the same time lost a third of cash revenue due to a sharp decline in the retail price one copy), Audemars Piguet (-9% and -5%, respectively).

Cartier Santos de Cartier XL

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding

Usually extolled by the watch press for the quality of management decisions, Rolex and Patek Philippe sagged more profoundly in the watch industry: in sales – by 14-15 %%, in revenue – by 15-20 %% (weaker indicators refer to “patek”).

But this, we repeat, is quite decent results against the background of the market average.
Who lost in absolute terms? These are brands that are part of the holdings: Swatch Group, LVMH, Kering, to a lesser extent – in Richemont.

Among them, there were 40% or more reductions, both in revenue and in the number of copies sold.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding: watch industry

It is easy to see that the majority of the “brave fellows” or at least the brands that have sagged below the market average are independent (non-public, that is, not listed on the stock exchange) companies.

These are Tudor, Breitling, Audemars Piguet, Rolex, Patek Philippe (here you can also add Richard Mille, which reduced revenue and sales by the same 12%), while among the losers there are almost entirely brands owned by corporations.

This superficial comparison gave the study authors the opportunity to once again advance the thesis of the benefits of independence in the watch industry.

Chopard Alpine Eagle XL Chrono

The drop in its annual sales and revenue, according to the study, is close to 50%, but – that’s the cunning of statistics! – last year, the authors attributed to her a clearly inflated production (70 thousand hours) and at the same time underestimated the average retail price of one copy (estimated at CHF 3023).

Chopard Alpine Eagle XL Chrono: watch industry

At the end of 2020, the figures, in my opinion, are much closer to reality. 36 thousand hours and CHF 6833, respectively. We observed a similar story in the watch industry with Bvlgari as well as with a couple of other brands.

So, given the overall reliability of the data collected by LuxeConsult, it is advisable to critically interpret their correctness.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona

“Band of the Year 2020” – Rolex (as part of the Rolex and Tudor brands). The result is achieved by combining Rolex’s balanced strategy honed over decades. And nd the excellent value for money combination chosen by Tudor. But this brand began its transition to manufacturing mechanisms only 6 years ago.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona: watch industry

Independent brand of 2020

Breitling and Audemars Piguet share the title of Independent Brand of the Year 2020.
Breitling Superocean Automatic 48 Boutique Edition and Breitling Superocean Heritage ’57 Limited Edition (left), Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin and Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Minute Repeater Supersonnerie

The current head of Breitling, George Kern, has confirmed his business qualities. He has honed more than 10 years of leadership of IWC. He has brought to the position of the No #2 brand in the Richemont holding after Cartier. Breitling is setting itself ambitious goals and probably hopes to squeeze out its competing Omega at retail price.

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