Swiss luxury watch executives say market is ‘slowing down’

  • The frenzy for new Swiss luxury watches is easing after its pandemic peak, when exports hit $27.6 billion.
  • “The market is a bit slower than before,” Thierry Stern, chairman of Patek Philippe, told Bloomberg.
  • This does not mean that watches from big brands are suddenly available for purchase, it just means that the waiting lists are slightly shorter.

The all-out global frenzy for Swiss luxury watches is winding down from its pandemic-era peak, say executives at major brands including Patek Philippe.

“I see that over the last couple of months the market is a bit slower than before,” Chairman Thierry Stern said. Bloomberg.

“I’m not saying it’s very bad – not at all. But I just see it slowing down,” he added.

Oris co-CEO Rolf Studer also told the outlet that dealers have eliminated inventory, although his company is seeing slightly lower restock orders.

Patek — manufacturer of the Highly coveted Nautilus steel sports watch – manufactures 60,000 to 70,000 watches per year, which sell for $30,000 and more.

Swiss exports have soared during the pandemic to a record 25 billion Swiss francs ($27.6 billion), but even with the recent downturn, Stern told Bloomberg, demand still far exceeds supply.

“It’s not that bad if we see some slowdown,” he said.

And even if Rolex would have produced more ten times more watches like Patek does, waiting lists for some models can last for months or even years.

In other words, just because the queue to buy a big name brand like Patek, Rolex or Audemars Piguet might be a little shorter doesn’t mean that potential buyers can simply enter their local dealer and buy a new watch.

The executives’ comments follow nearly a year after the secondary market peaked and entered a long slide that wiped out much of the scum from “unsustainable” price appreciation.

As the secondary market appears to be stabilizing, news out of Switzerland suggests that popularity of high-end watches is still quite high, although it cannot return to the extremes of recent years.

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