Morgan Stanley Research worked with Oliver Müller, founder of the Swiss watch consulting firm LuxeConsult, on his study of the Swiss watch market published in 2019. Their report highlights the outperformance of “mega-brands” in the luxury sector and ranks the top 10 watch brands by their estimated sales in 2018.
In 2018, the Swiss watch industry exported 23.7 million watches, which is a drop in the ocean compared to global watch production which runs into billions. But the roles are reversed when looking only at value, as predominantly luxury brands in the Swiss watch industry represent 70% of the global watch market, with exports of $ 21.2 billion in 2018, according to the reports. statistics from the Swiss Watch Industry Federation.
WorldTempus lists the top ten Swiss watch brands based on their estimated sales in 2018 according to Morgan Stanley Research.
1. Rolex. The crowned company remains the undisputed champion of the world watch market. Completely independent and not listed on the stock exchange, the prestigious brand is almost an exception in this top ten, alongside Patek Philippe. Although the company is owned by a charitable foundation and very discreet about its numbers, Morgan Stanley Research estimates that its sales in 2018 were just over 5 billion Swiss francs out of estimated sales of 950,000 watches.
2. Omega. The brand’s double-digit growth in 2018 pushed revenue to around 2.34 billion Swiss francs, meaning that Omega significantly outperformed the watch industry as a whole, as well as its peers in the world. within the Swatch Group. Morgan Stanley Research estimates that Omega and Longines alone accounted for around 70% of the parent company’s operating income in 2018.
3. Cartier. Despite a refocusing of its watch segment in recent years, the French featherweight of the Richemont group’s cap remains a heavyweight in the list with around 410,000 watches sold in 2018 for a turnover of 1.66 billion Swiss francs.
4. Longines. Fourth place goes to the oldest registered trademark still in operation. The Swatch Group outpost in Saint-Imier generated around 1.65 billion Swiss francs in sales in 2018 for 2.1 million watches sold.
5. Patek Philippe. In the hands of the Stern family since 1932, the brand likes to remind people that it is one of the few factories still in the family. The supplier of some of the world’s best timepieces produced around 56,000 watches in 2018 – a figure that has barely changed in recent years as the company masterfully manages the supply and demand for its watches. . The small production volume with a high average price brought in 1.35 billion Swiss francs in sales in 2018, according to Morgan Stanley Research.
6. Tissot. More accessible to the general public than the brands higher up in the ranking, Tissot offers much more affordable timepieces in much larger volumes (behind only Swatch in terms of production). A strategy that has borne fruit for this brand of the Swatch Group, which closed its 2018 financial year with a turnover of 1.05 billion francs on sales estimated at nearly three million watches. But Tissot suffers from the popularity of smartwatches, with which it competes directly in its price segment. How long can the company hold its place in the top 10?
7. Audemars Piguet. The independent watch brand from Le Brassus confirms the strength of unlisted companies in 2018 with record sales (1.03 billion Swiss francs) and profits for the year. Like Patek Philippe and Rolex, the independent brand closely controls its production and increasingly takes control of its sales and distribution channels.
8. TAG Heuer. The benchmark brand for luxury sports watches is the only representative of LVMH’s watchmaking division in this top ten. Under the leadership of industry veteran Jean-Claude Biver until last year, its sales have grown steadily to just under one billion Swiss francs (985 million) in 2018.
9. CBI. Known for its affordable luxury, aviator’s watches and grand complications, this brand from the Richemont team sold timepieces worth 889 million Swiss francs in 2018, according to Morgan Stanley Research.
10. Breguet. Jaeger Lecoultre. The Sentier brand edged out its peers Richemont Vacheron Constantin and Officine Panerai to enter the top 10 of 2018 with a turnover of 647 million Swiss francs on sales of 110,000 watches. But the brand is competing for its place by Hublot, which is just behind it in terms of turnover but with a production volume twice that of Jaeger-LeCoultre.
Click here to see the top 10 luxury watch brands
The two major Swiss watch groups each have three brands in the top ten, although the Swatch Group dominates in terms of volume and value. But it is the rise of “mega-brands” that is the most striking trend, because independent brands with better control of their entire value chain are benefiting from it. After the threat of bottlenecks for the Swatch Group’s mechanical movements was confronted with increased capacity in the industry, competition became more focused on brands with iconic designs. With the trend towards DTC (direct to consumer) models already initiated by Audemars Piguet and Richard Mille, which should intensify over the next few years, we can expect disruptions in the 10 biggest watch brands.