Record sales at Sotheby's
Sotheby’s International Watch auctions reached $ 12 million in July, driven by exceptional results including George Daniels timepiece Masterworks of Time for $ 10.1 million and Omega Speedmaster sold for $ 1.2 million. These sales closed one of the most successful seasons in Sotheby’s Watches’ history. Since the beginning of 2019, the company’s watch auctions have reported a total of $ 59 million, an increase of 54 % over the same period in 2018 ($ 38.2 million). These results were fueled by record prices, live auctions, and online sales growth. During this season, nearly 40 % of the lots sold exceeded the highest estimates, and twelve timepieces were sold for more than 500,000 dollars.
Swiss watchmaking presented for UNESCO recognition
Switzerland and France have submitted a joint application to be recognised for watchmaking art and mechanics to UNESCO. The organisation will decide whether to add this to the Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage in November 2020. Swiss watch-making know-how spans craftsmanship from Geneva to Schaffhausen along the Jura mountain range that divides Switzerland from France. The manufacture of automatons and music boxes in the St. Croix region is also part of the package. Several craftspeople, companies, schools, museums and associations transmit these techniques in this Franco-Swiss area. Techniques range from the manual and traditional to the innovative. One of the assets of this bid lies in its link with the watch-making town planning of La Chaux-de-Fonds and Le Locle, inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2009.
Volumes of Swiss watch exports fall sharply
The slowdown in growth that began in late 2018 and the high basis for comparison pointed to a relatively flat start to 2019. Ultimately, however, watch exports for the first half of the year performed better than expected. While part of the increase can be attributed to particular circumstances, such as anticipating the effects of Brexit and an exhibition of rare items in China, overall performance remained positive and points to an encouraging trend in the sector for the year as a whole. Watch exports reached the equivalent of 10.7 billion Swiss francs during the first half of the year, an increase of 1.4%. While performance improved by +2.9% in the first quarter, the second three months of the year suffered from the sharp decline in June, causing results to stagnate. Exports of wristwatches accounted for 94% of total value and amounted to 10.0 billion francs, an increase of 1.3% compared with the first half of 2018. The trend for the number of items sold was markedly different. The drastic decline that began last year worsened during the first half of 2019 and the sector has seen volumes fall by 14.1% in six months, a drop of over 1.6 million timepieces.
Lower six-month results for Swatch Group
The Group generated net sales of CHF 4,078 million, -3.7% at constant exchange rates compared to a very strong previous year, and -4.4% at current rates. Operating result decreased by -13.0% to CHF 547 million compared to the previous year. Operating margin was 13.4% (previous year: 14.7%). Net income totaled CHF 415 million (-11.3% compared to the previous year) or 10.2% of net sales (previous year: 11.0%). The Swatch Group anticipates strong growth in the second half of 2019, on the one hand, due to continuing solid demand in the most important markets, and on the other hand, due to the fact that the second half of 2018 was characterized by a poor fourth quarter. The launch of numerous innovative new products by the brands in all price segments will further stimulate sales. The successfully implemented e-commerce, especially in the middle and basic segment, will generate dynamic growth in the second half of the year. The Group expects positive sales growth for the entire year in comparison to the previous year.
Watches of Switzerland without Rolex and Patek Philippe
Watches of Switzerland has opened a fourth multibrand store in the United States, this time at Encore Boston Harbor, part of a Wynn Resorts luxury resort and casino. It is the second Wynn Resorts collaboration for Watches of Switzerland, having opened at Wynn Las Vegas in December 2018. The company also has two stores in Manhattan, New York City. The Boston opening is the first time that Watches of Switzerland has entered a new market without the pulling power of Rolex or Patek Philippe on its roster of brands. It has dedicated areas for Hublot and Panerai and adjacent standalone boutiques for Omega and IWC. There will also be watches from Franck Muller, Ressence, Bovet, Laurent Ferrier and Jacob & Co. Working with Ressence, Bovet, Laurent Ferrier is described as part of a strategy to work with smaller, independent brands, the company says.
The GPHG 2019 inaugurates new categories
The Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) is perpetually shifting, evolving and adapting. For its 19th edition, the GPHG is inviting watch brands to enter watches in 14 different categories, including two unprecedented ones. As its name implies, the Diver’s category is dedicated to watches linked to the world of diving, whose functions, materials and designs are suited to this activity. The Iconic category is open to watches from an emblematic collection that has been exercising a lasting influence on watchmaking history for more than 25 years. In addition, the Calendar and Astronomy category is back this year and relates to men’s mechanical watches comprising at least one calendar and/or astronomical complication. The “Horological Revelation” Prize is also returning in 2019, enabling the jury to reward a creation from a youthful brand. The 2019 list of prize-winners will be announced on Thursday November 7th at the Théâtre du Léman in Geneva.
Sharp monthly rise of Swiss watch exports en May 2019
Exports in the sector rose steadily in May (+11.4%) to more than 2 billion francs. The increase was driven by an additional business day, and by an exceptional export of alarm clocks and small clocks. Underlying growth in the sector was between +8 and +9%, as evidenced by the increase in watch exports. Performance remained sharply polarised in terms of price segments. Watches priced below 200 francs (export price) continued to lose ground, falling by 16.1% by the number of items. At the other extreme, timepieces priced over 3,000 francs recorded double-digit growth. The vast majority of markets saw an increase during May. Hong Kong (-7.0%) was a major exception, recording a decline for the second consecutive month and confirming the downward trend seen since the start of the year. China (+81.0%) was boosted by the exceptional export of alarm clocks and small clocks, but would have recorded very strong growth even without it. Among the other Asian markets, Japan (+39.8%), Singapore (+24.9%) and the United Arab Emirates (+44.6%) all saw significant gains. The United States (+10.4%) was close to the global average, as was France (+10.9%).
LVMH Watch Division exhibition in Dubai in January 2020
Stéphane Bianchi, President of the LVMH Watch Division, and Jean-Christophe Babin, President of the Bulgari Group, are announcing the first LVMH Swiss Watch Manufactures Exhibition. The event will take place in Dubai Bulgari Hotel in January 2020 and will include Bulgari, TAG Heuer, Hublot and Zenith. The four Watch Brands will introduce to the International Medias and Retail Partners their Watchmaking news 2020. “In between Geneva in January and Basel in March, we have had in the recent years two major product presentations in the first quarter. This early discovery of our strategies, news and novelties has allowed our media and retail partners to better plan the year ahead and as such we have decided on this set up for 2020 to balance the scheduling of the other events”, declared Jean-Christophe Babin. As previously announced, Bulgari, TAG Heuer, Hublot and Zenith are also confirming in parallel their presence at Baselworld 2020, late April/early May.
Richemont annual sales growth of 27%
Group sales increased by 27% at actual and constant exchange rates to €13,989 million. Since 1 May and 1 June 2018, respectively, Yoox Net-à-Porter (YNAP) and Watchfinder & Co are consolidated in the Group’s accounts as Online Distributors. Excluding YNAP and Watchfinder, sales rose by 8% at actual and constant exchange rates. Richemont observed growth in all business areas and most regions with a double digit progression in Asia Pacific and the Americas and a double digit increases in the directly operated boutiques of Jewellery Maisons and Specialist Watchmakers. Operating profit grew by 5% to €1,943 million; excluding the impact of Online Distributors and one-time net charges of €118 million, the operating margin increased to 19.5%. Profit for the year rose to €2,787 million including a post-tax non-cash gain of €1,378 million on the revaluation of YNAP shares held prior to tender offer. At the end of fiscal year, the net cash position amounted to €2,528 million.