The French watch industry has bowed its knees, and Swiss watchmaking brands can still rely on their reputation and clever pricing to surpass local products and make a strategic response to a market that is struggling to regain their foothold. French watches and clocks have not made the global market hot, far from it. Not because France does not sell watches, in terms of sales, watches are about a third of jewelry. For countries where jewelry plays an important cultural role, this is a considerable number. In fact, the proportion of watches in 2016 dropped by 6 percentage points.
Looking closely at the statistics, the situation is even less optimistic. Sales of watches over 5,000 euros have fallen sharply (-10%); in the lower price range, between 1,000 and 5,000 euros, the situation is even worse, with a drop of 14%; the obvious conclusion is that the French bought a lot Cheap watches, the only growth in watch sales is in the price range of 100 euros to 300 euros.
Action, Response: Entry Level
Seiko Presage 3-Hand Automatic and Baume & Mercier
So how do Swiss watch brands deal with this disappointing situation? It’s very logical to provide value for money products. For example, the Baume & Mercier Chrysler watch has made significant progress in 2016. Seiko has a similar situation. The Presage three-hand automatic watch is only 479 euros, which is great value and sales are skyrocketing.
Anonimo Nautilo and Frederique Constant Heartbeat
Anonimo, although not as famous as the above two brands, Nautilo watches (stainless steel case, Sellita movement) for 1,950 euros are well received. Thanks to its precise and ingenious pricing strategy, Frederique Constant Heartbeat watches have been the best-selling models in France and many other countries.
What about smart watches? Tag Heuer does a great job. At present, Connected smart watches are selling in France. Although the marketing budget almost guarantees this result, if it is so easy, why other participants have failed to replicate it.
Meteor perishable star eternal
Hublot Big Bang stainless steel / ceramic watch and classic fusion titanium chronograph
However, some ‘cold-resistant perennials’ did not appear to be affected by the turmoil. Continuing the hot trend in 2015, the Hublot Big Bang series of stainless steel / ceramic watches are not only the best-selling products in France but also in the global market, and the classic fusion series titanium chronograph follows closely behind. The former sells for 13,400 euros and the latter sells for 14,800 euros, which are both lower than Hublot’s average selling price of 20,000 euros. France loves Hublot, yes, but there are restrictions.
Hermès Cape Cod watch
A similar phenomenon is happening at the earl. In 2016, one of Piaget’s most famous models repeated a convincing performance. This year, the Altiplano series 38 mm rose gold watch, equipped with the legendary Calibre 430P movement, is full of limelight. Lange’s situation is similar. Lange 1 watches still dominate, although local customers prefer the moon phase. Richard Mill’s RM 011 series (including RM 011, RM 11-01, RM 11-02, and most recently RM 11-03) is still the leader in sales. Hermes’ enduring Cape Cod series watches refuse to give up the top position, as do Girard Perregaux’s long-established 1966 and Laureato series watches.
Fine watchmaking: a difficult year and difficult conclusions
The sales of fine timepieces are significantly smaller, but the sales are much larger. However, some brands still offer some stand-alone timepieces. For example, Roger Dubuis’s best-selling model in France in 2016 is the Excalibur 42 automatic skeletonized watch with RD820SQ movement.
HYT H4 Metropolis watch
However, when it comes to independent brands, it is not easy to draw meaningful conclusions. Distribution can be more uneven and tend to focus on a particular market area (or areas), which can mask strong differences. As far as independent fine watch brands (Kelly Tianyin, Coperfus, MCT and Romain Gauthier) are concerned, the sales volume is not large, because the production is already small. For example, a Julien Coudray 1518 watch costs up to 400,000 Euros. This means that the company does not have to sell a lot to ensure that it works properly. This year, the H4 watch surpassed the H1 for the first time, becoming the first choice of local HYT fans. All in all, creativity remains a powerful driver of growth in the watchmaking industry-as long as it’s affordable.