Retail current value sales of watches declined by almost a quarter during 2020, and while they will begin to expand again in 2021, this rebound will be very modest. World famous for its watches, demand for these products was particularly hard hit by a sharp decline in inbound international tourism during 2020, with 2021 only likely to see a partial recovery in this figure.
Jewellery and watch specialist retailers will remain the leading distribution channel for watches in 2021, but 2020 was a breakthrough year for e-commerce in watches, as restrictions on movement due to the pandemic led a growing number of local consumers to shop for these products online, in addition to forcing bother brands and retail chains to pay more attention to this channel. While quartz digital watches with brands like Casio had a strong online presence even before the onset of the pandemic, mechanical watch manufacturers have been much slower to embrace this channel.
From Chanel’s rainbow model to Zenith’s Defy 21, which is available in such extravagant colours as purple, green and orange, a growing number of watchmakers are embracing bold colours. While the Swiss have traditionally been rather conservative when it comes to fashion, younger consumers in particular are becoming bolder in this regard.
Retail current value sales of watches will continue to recover during both 2022 and the forecast period as a whole, with mid mechanical watches the top perform. However, even by the end of the forecast period, retail current value sales of watches will remain below their pre-pandemic (2019) peak.
E-commerce will continue to grow in importance as a distribution channel for quartz analogue and digital watches during the forecast period, particularly among younger ‘digital natives’ who have grown up with the internet and smartphones. Many of these consumers prefer the convenience of online shopping to visiting a physical store in person.
Solar watches may emerge as a niche during the forecast period, as the technology matures and prices fall. A growing interest in sustainability, particularly among younger consumers, may also play a role in this.
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Understand the latest market trends and future growth opportunities for the Watches industry in Switzerland with research from Euromonitor International's team of in-country analysts – experts by industry and geographic specialisation.
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This report originates from Passport, our Watches research and analysis database.
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