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LONDON: Consumers driving the biggest boom in mechanical watches in decades are seeking out more expensive timepieces, and from entry-level marques to the most exclusive independents, Swiss manufacturers are happy to oblige.
Take Oris Watches, a brand known for its affordable diving watches. The move to higher quality models has pushed the average selling price from 2,000 Swiss francs (RM9,119) to about 2,400 francs (RM10,943) in three years, according to co-chief executive officer (CEO) Rolf Studer.
That emboldened the company to make more watches with in-house developed movements, such as its Propilot X Caliber 400 featuring a titanium case and bracelet that sells for 3,900 Swiss francs (RM17,782).
“It’s the upper end that is thriving,” said Studer. “People know more, they demand more and they are ready to spend money on a higher level of watch.”
The unprecedented surge in luxury watch interest was kick-started by the pandemic, when a new breed of collectors and enthusiasts stuck at home during lockdowns began lusting over fancy timepieces online.,
These days, watch exports from Switzerland, the centre of the global watch industry, are near record value levels. Watches priced above 3,000 Swiss francs (RM13,678) are driving the increases, as buyers become more educated and seek out higher-quality calibres.
The shift was pioneered by Rolex, which dominates the Swiss industry with an estimated 29% luxury watch market share.
Rolex sales rose about 17% between 2019 and 2021, according to Morgan Stanley and industry consultant Luxe Consult.
Almost a third of that gain is attributable to changes in product mix as Rolex sold more of its priciest models like Daytona chronographs or Day-Dates made from precious metals.
Even ultra luxury brands like H Moser & Cie, known for its highly finished, mechanically complicated timepieces, are moving up the value chain. Moser’s average selling price has risen a lot in three years.
“There’s more demand for jewellery pieces, tourbillons and minute repeaters,” CEO Edouard Meylan said, referring to watches encrusted with jewels or featuring intricate movement complications. — Bloomberg