Watches is set to see a return to growth in 2021 following the marked decline in sales witnessed in the previous year as a result of store closures and the absence of inbound tourists due to the COVID-19 crisis. However, sales are expected to remain well below the levels seen prior to the pandemic.
The success of Made in France products is making a notable contribution to the revival of positive growth in the watches category. This is particularly the case in high watches with a sober and vintage style, such as Pinet-Montrivel and Apose (a new, local anti-bling-bling watch), which are in tune with the consumer aesthetic emerging in the context of the COVID-19 crisis.
Overall, the watches category is very fragmented, with many brands belonging to large groups or emerging independent players, but which are struggling to remain in existence. While Swatch France SA remained the largest company in watches in 2020, Rolex’s eponymous label retained its position as the leading brand.
The functionality of watches has been usurped by connected devices, with smartphones, in particular, providing consumers with access to the time alongside multiple other functions. In this context, basic watches appear obsolete, while smart watches are growing in popularity, as they provide convenient, portable connectivity.
Having seen strong growth in 2020, e-commerce is set to overtake department stores to become the second largest distribution channel in watches in 2021. The channel has benefited from the closure of non-essential stores during the COVID-19 crisis, as well as consumers’ concerns about viral transmission through social contact.
The second-hand market is expected to become an increasingly prominent feature of the high watches segment during the forecast period, attracting the attention of increasingly expert buyers with a collector and/or investor profile. For instance, an old Tudor watch worth EUR1,500 a few years ago is now worth around EUR5,000.
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This report originates from Passport, our Watches research and analysis database.
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