The impact from the Hong Kong protests is spreading to global luxury retailers, with jewelry - including Swiss watches - taking a hit as shoppers and big-spending travelers stay away. Unrest has forced many stores to close and sparked widespread social disruption. Luxury brand Richemont - which owns several of the world's leading luxury goods companies including Cartier, Piaget, Van Cleef & Arpels and Jaeger-LeCoultre - is the latest firm to say its business is being impacted by the ongoing protests.
Watches of Switzerland went public on the London Stock Exchange last week, enjoying a better-than-expected debut. Shares are set to openly trade days after conditional trading started for the UK’s dominant luxury watch retailer. Watches of Switzerland (WoS) is owned by US private equity company Apollo Global Management and is the top UK seller of luxury timepiece brands like Rolex and Mayors. Under the leadership of chief executive officer (CEO), Brian Duffy, WoS’s sales have grown to make up 35% of luxury watch sales in the UK.
The Watches & Jewelry business group of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton recorded revenue growth in the first quarter of 2019, driven by the performance of its jewelry, though the group lagged behind other product categories. Bvlgari is said to have "made strong progress" in its own stores.
Coronet, the signature brand of Hong Kong-based Aaron Shum Jewelry, has been awarded its ninth Guinness World Record, this time for the most diamonds set on a watch: 15,858, weighing a combined 50.01 carats. Unveiled at BaselWorld last week, the watch is named Mudan 牡丹, which is Chinese for peony, a flower recognized as the King of the flowers in the Chinese culture.
With the 2019 edition of Baselworld getting underway Thursday, Graff Diamonds has revealed two of the three Fancy Vivid Yellow Diamond watches to be showcased. Yellow diamonds are extremely rare, so it takes patience - and good contacts - to collect enough to set them in a timepiece or a piece of jewelry; it can take years to source enough stones of the same color, intensity and size. Each watch is built in 18-karat yellow gold to underscore the brilliance of the watch's diamonds, and each features round and fancy oval diamonds that are meticulously set by hand.
After a small rise in January, export growth in the watch industry gained momentum in February, according to figures from the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry. The industry exported goods worth the equivalent of CHF 1.8 billion francs ($1.8 billion), up 3.4% from February 2018. However, a 58 percent surge in shipments to the U.K. in February accounted for 80% of the increase worldwide and is explained by stockpiling ahead of Brexit. In the first two months of the year, the U.K. imported 242 million Swiss francs ($242 million) of timepieces from Switzerland.
LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the world’s leading luxury products group, recorded revenue of €46.8 billion in 2018, an increase of 10% over the previous year. LVMH's results have upset prevailing wisdom about the health of China’s shoppers with its latest results. The luxury bellwether, which owns some of the world’s most valuable brands including Christian Dior and Givenchy, said Tuesday that demand from Chinese consumers strengthened in the three months through December, defying analysts' expectations for a decline in luxury spending.
Following the recent announcement by CEO Nick Hayek Jr. that the Swatch Group would be packing up its 18 brands - including Omega - and its approximately 50-million dollar budget and heading for the exit at BaselWorld, the renowned watch and jewelry trade fair is facing a future of uncertainty. Hayek's statement about Swatch's departure was blunt and clear as a bell: “Today everything has become more transparent, fast-moving, and instantaneous ... In this new context, annual watch fairs, as they exist today, no longer make much sense. This does not mean that they should disappear.
The strong growth of watch industry exports reported in January was confirmed - and even bettered in February, reports the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, as exports to Hong Kong and the US saw their strongest monthly advance for six years. The total value of Swiss exports reached $1.78 billion (CHF 1.69 billion), an increase of 12.9% on the February 2017 figure. A total of 1.9 miilion units (+3.8%) were shipped, good for $1.67 billion (CHF 1.59 billion), with an additional $100.7 million (CHF 95.9) earned from other products.
Swiss watch exports saw their strongest growth in more than five years during 2017, according to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry. with Hong Kong and mainland China representing the top two markets for Swiss watches. This trend continued to start off 2018, as January sales in Hong Kong rose 21.3 percent to grab a 15 percent of the market, while sales in mainland China surged by 44.3 percent to reach 10.9 percent of the market, overtaking the US.
Swiss watch industry exports rose strongly at the beginning of 2018, boosted by substantial sales growth in Asia, reports the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry. Year on year, total January exports of wristwatches rose by 12.6% to $1.7 billion (1.6 billion Swiss francs), as the trade benefited from the dynamic performance of previous months and a favourable base effect, the Industry body writes.
Richemont, the second largest luxury goods company in the world, announced sales had jumped during the April-to-August period as a result of Asia's strong performance.
Driven by strong increases in exports to Hong Kong and China, and even modest 1.4% growth for the U.S., July marked the third straight month of growth for Swiss watch industry exports, according to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry FH.
Swiss watch industry exports rose strongly in May, according to figures from the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry. They were worth $1.77 (1.7 billion francs), 9.0% more than in May 2016. This was the second positive month after March, confirming the recovery which has been under way since the start of the year. Several important markets posted very strong growth. Hong Kong (+18.1%) and China (+34.4%) led the Asian continent while the situation in Japan (-3.2%) continued to deteriorate.
Richemont, the second largest luxury goods company in the world, released its consolidated results for the financial year that ended 31 March 2017. Jewelry sales for the group - including Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels - were up 7% to $4.55 billion, a growth considered rare for this section of the group’s portfolio. The report suggests the rise was partially offset by a weak watch division as watch sales dropped by 15% to $4.75 billion.
In April 2017, a symposium called, “Synthetic Diamonds: Are Watchmaking and Jewelry in Danger?” was held in Geneva, specifically to address the issue of synthetic diamonds in the domain of watchmaking and how it is possible to differentiate natural from lab-grown stones.
"The organizers of Baselworld, the world’s largest watch and jewelry fair, have recognized that it is in a state of decline," writes Anthony DeMarco for Forbes. "At a time when the fair has reached the milestone of 100 years, fair organizers announced that they are reducing the 2018 edition by two days and cutting prices for exhibitors, following several years of exhibitor and attendance declines." The organization announced in a press release that visitor figures were down 4% to 106,000 buyers.
Birks, a group that operates 46 luxury stores in Canada, Florida and Georgia reported an 11% sales increase this holiday season. In the U.S. sales increased by 16% whereas in Canada sales grew by 3% compared to the previous holiday season. The growth in sales was the result of the company’s success in growing its average sales transactions and conversion rates, reflecting the success of the company’s long-term sales growth strategies.
Richemont, the second largest luxury goods company in the world, just shared their trading update for the third quarter ended December 31 2016, reporting an overall 5% uptick at constant exchange rates to $3,292.5 million and a 6% rise at actual exchange rates. In Europe, sales increased by 3% in the third quarter, in contrast with the 17% decline registered in the first six months of the year. The report suggests the increase was primarily due to local sales and tourist purchases in the United Kingdom as well as strong jewelry sales across the region.
Forbes created a list of the top luxury watches designed to celebrate the upcoming Chinese New Year, which beings on January 28, 2017. The year of the Rooster will be captured by Ulysse Nardin, Jaquet Droz, Chopard, Piaget and Vacheron Constantin – brands that are known for combining Swiss craftsmanship with Chinese culture.
In response to Walmart selling their $18,000 Diamond Watch on walmart.com, Cartier issued a statement clarifying that Walmart is not authorized to sell its products. Walmart has more than tripled its online offering of products over the past year, and made headlines last week when the Wall Street Journal reported that a third-party vendor, New York-based Jewelry Unlimited, was selling a $18,000 diamond watch by Cartier on walmart.com on Black Friday. Cartier took aim at Walmart on Monday, saying it could not vouch for the authenticity of the watches sold via walmart.com.
The Timex Group Swiss Luxury Division - which manages the watch business for luxury fashion brands Salvatore Ferragamo, Versace, Versus and Nautica through licensing agreements - is the latest company to leave the Baselworld watch and jewelry show, writes Anthony DeMarco for Forbes. According to Paolo Marai, president and CEO of the division of the Timex Group, the money the company spends participating in Baselworld - $3 million - could be better spent elsewhere. “I think that Baselworld is a huge investment for everybody and is in my opinion losing some effectiveness,” he said.
On November 14, Richemont announced they would cut 210 jobs, this following the announcement from Chairman Johann Rupert, who abolished the CEO position in the company’s biggest management shakeup since 2009.
The Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry FH reports that September 2016 marks the fifteenth straight month of falling exports. The downturn in watch industry exports flattened out in the third quarter, but remained significant in September, at -5.7%, coming in at a total value of $1.72 billion (1.7 billion francs). Exports to the United States - the leading export county for the second time this year with 11.3% of the total market - rose 4.7%, while those to Japan (7.5% of market) increased 8.9%.
With its industry overview announcing that, "Exports of Swiss watches fell in the first half of 2016 to CHF 9.5 billion ($9.8bn) from CHF 10.2 billion ($10.5bn) in 2015. This is the lowest level since 2011. In July and August the decline continued.
Richemont, which owns the Cartier jewelry and watches maison among other units in the luxury sector, issued a profit warning on Wednesday after recording a drop in sales. The results reflected the challenges luxury goods companies face from weaker demand in Asia and a decline in tourism in Europe, the Wall Street Journal reported. Geneva-based Richemont said sales fell 14% for the five months through August from the previous year at actual exchange rates. At constant exchange rates, sales declined 13%.
A Blancpain cocktail watch and its bracelet, set with 71 round diamonds and two marquise stones and once owned by Marilyn Monroe, is expected to sell for $80,000 to $120,000 at auction in November. A worldwide tour of a collection of Monroe's belongings started on June 1, which would have been her 90th birthday, with the vintage timepiece being the highest-valued item.
Luxury jeweler Tiffany & Co. is aiming to boost sales of wristwatches due to a slowdown in the jewelry market. Tiffany-made watches could account for 10 percent of the company’s sales within a decade, according to Nicola Andreatta, head of the firm's timepiece business, from just 1 percent last year. If it succeeds in hitting that target, it would likely make Tiffany one of the world’s top 10 watch brands, he told Bloomberg.
Based on preliminary data from the US Department of Commerce, IDEX reports that total sales of fine jewelry and watches in the US market rose by a solid 4.2% in March when compared to March 2015, leading to a 4.9% overall increase US sales of fine jewelry during the first quarter of 2016, rising to $16.8 billion compared to $16 billion a year ago. However, preliminary March sales for specialty jewelers only gained 3%.
Overall U.S. jewelry and watch sales increased by 4.2% on the year to approximately $4.65 billion last month, according to provisional data from the U.S. Department of Commerce. Of that figure, Rapaport News estimates jewelry sales in March rose 4% to $4.11 billion, compared with the February increase of 4.5 percent. The Department of Commerce revised slightly upward sales figures for jewelry and watch sales in January and February to 5.8% and 4.8%, respectively.
The decline in Swiss watch exports that started in July 2015 gathered pace in March, with exports to Hong Kong, the United States and China hit hard. Overall watch exports plunged 16.1% on the year in March with a value of just 1.5 billion francs ($1.53 billion), making them the lowest March figures since 2011. The biggest declines were seen for watches costing 200-500 francs, with a 27.1% drop in both value and volume terms.
A gang of fraudsters allegedly paid for watches, jewelry and diamonds with Monopoly money in three scams said to have been executed in London, Bristol and Leeds, a jury at a trial at Bristol Crown Court was told. The scams, some of which are admitted, all involve real euros being switched for bundles of fake notes marked either "facsimile" or "Monopoly" in deals worth a total of millions of euros.
Luxury products group LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton posted an increase in revenue on the year before of 4% to 8.6 billion euros for the first quarter 2016. "The U.S. market is strong and Europe remains well oriented except for France which is affected by a fall in tourism," the firm said in a statement. "Asian markets are varied, but Japan continues to progress." The company's Watches & Jewelry unit recorded organic revenue growth of 7% in the first quarter of 2016, outperforming the market, it reported.
Swiss watch exports were negative for the eighth consecutive month in February, with a value of $1.75 billion (1.7 billion francs) – a decline of 3.3% on the year, the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry reported in a statement. The export figures were significantly influenced by developments in the Hong Kong market. Wristwatches recorded a less pronounced fall in value, down 2.0%, but bimetallic timepieces dragged the figures down, while steel products registered an upturn.
Harry Winston has released a new limited edition timepiece, the Countdown to a Cure Timepiece, to benefit amfAR's (The American Foundation for AIDS Research) efforts to develop a cure for HIV/AIDS. The timepiece, which has been exclusively designed for the campaign, is part of Harry Winston’s Midnight Collection.
India's Titan Company, the fifth largest integrated own brand watch manufacturer in the world, annouced a 17.3% increase in income to $504.6 million in Q3 compared to the same period last year due an increase in sales during the festive season. Jewelry was the main driver of the strong performance, registering a 20% increase to $415.3 million in Q3. Income for the nine-month period ending December 31 however declined 6.2% to $1.3 billion, while jewelry sales fell 9.6% to $1.01 billion.
Bloomberg Business reports that Swiss watch exports posted their first annual drop in six years, hurt by slumping demand for less expensive timepieces that are competing for buyers with Apple Inc. and other smartwatch makers. December exports declined 3.8%, pushing shipments down 3.3% on the year to 21.5 billion Swiss francs ($21.2 billion), the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry said Tuesday. That compares with a 1.9% rise the previous year.
International Watch writes: As the Chinese Year of the Monkey begins February 8, 2016, watch companies have begun releasing models with a primate theme that commemorate the year. According to Chinese zodiac lore, people born during the year of this sign are clever and intelligent, especially in their career and wealth. They are said to be lively, flexible, quick-witted and versatile. Yet they still have shortcomings, according to the seers, including an ‘impetuous temper and a tendency to look down upon others.’
U.S. jewelry and watch sales from all retail outlets increased 3.3 percent on the year in November to an estimated $6.9 billion, according to provisional figures from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Meanwhile, jewelry sales alone last month rose by an identical percentage figure on the year to $6.1 billion, Rapaport News estimates – a significant increase on the October growth rate of 1.9 percent.
Business of Fashion reports that as the Swiss watch industry prepares for fourth straight year of little to no growth, big producers such as Richemont, the owner of Cartier, are trimming back investment in production while some smaller rivals look for a buyer or risk going under. The world’s biggest watch-producing country will register a 2% increase in shipments next year, according to the median estimate of 11 analysts in a Bloomberg survey. That’s the same rate of 2013 and 2014, a far cry from growth of about 20% in prior years.