The global watch industry is going strong, with continual innovations in smartwatches as well as quartz and mechanical. While the influence of the coronavirus is being felt across industries, watchmakers are still finding alternatives and opportunities to keep up sales. Major trade shows are building new platforms, and lower-priced brands have the potential to rise through the ranks as consumers tighten budgets and look for options that are both affordable and stylish.
The global watch industry is large and well established, with the potential to grow by up to $36 billion between 2020 and 2024. While the quartz watch market will grow at a faster rate than the market for mechanical watches, luxury products will continue to appeal to a core group of consumers. Demand for watches is currently highest in APAC, which offers a number of growth opportunities as demand for luxury products rises. So what’s new in the global watch industry so far this year?
Is Apple taking over the global watch industry?
The Apple Watch has been growing in popularity over the past several years, particularly among younger consumers. Apple has declared its Watch to be the number one watch in the world, ahead of well-established leaders such as Rolex. But is that really accurate?
Raw numbers suggest that it is. According to research done by Strategy Analytics, the Apple Watch outsold the entire Swiss watch industry in 2019, shipping close to 31 million units compared to the Swiss market’s 21.1 million. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the Apple Watch is a direct competitor to luxury brands.
While the Apple Watch may be the leader in terms of unit sales, it hasn’t been eating into mechanical watch sales at all. Data from the Association of the Swiss Watch Industry FH reveals that Swiss mechanical watch sales stayed consistent from 2013 to 2017, increasing in 2018 and hitting a record high last year. The Apple Watch has been performing incredibly well, and it may be a threat to quartz watches and fitness trackers, but consumers aren’t viewing it as a replacement for luxury watches.
Suggested reading: Top 10 Fitness App Brands of 2020
Danish design is coming up in the world
In Denmark, watchmakers typically prioritize stylish design and affordable pricing, putting fashion watches in the hands of consumers who don’t have the budget for a more expensive Rolex or Tag Heuer. Danish consumers have never shown much interest in luxury watches, and the country’s manufacturers tend to offer watches that run on quartz batteries and are priced under $500. Many of these companies are small businesses that don’t have a long history of expertise but make up for it in enthusiasm and design.
Denmark has about 25 watch companies, and while they may not have the same name recognition as the industry’s big players, a sense of style and an affordable price could get them a long way, especially now. With the coronavirus eating into household incomes and prompting consumers to be more conservative with their spending, watches that look fashionable without breaking the bank could become very popular in the global market.
Trade show disruptions
Baselworld, the watch industry’s largest trade show, announced in late February that the event would be postponed until January 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, the MCH Group has decided to cancel the event altogether and look into its options for new platforms for the event going forward. Traditionally, Baselworld ran in late April along with the SIHH – now renamed Watches & Wonders – which also canceled its physical trade show this year as the Swiss government banned all large events and gatherings.
Unlike Baselworld, however, Watches & Wonders has found a way to put on a show despite the pandemic. The trade show, traditionally a very exclusive, private event, launched a public online platform on April 25th for exhibitors to unveil new timepieces and technology to the general public for the first time. Since then, the platform has seen 55,000 unique visitors from over 180 countries, providing tremendous reach to its partners and laying a strong foundation for the site’s continued use going forward.
Suggested reading: How is COVID-19 Impacting the Smartphone Industry?
What’s trendy in 2020?
Watches & Wonders has brought to light new watch market trends and shown that others are still going strong. Complicated watches continue to be popular, particularly ones with astronomical complications such as star charts, moon phases, sunrise and sunset times, and much more. Skeleton watches are also in style, with several examples present at the online show. Blue is still a fashionable color, and watch sizes are trending somewhat smaller. The luxury sports watch is also making a comeback along with other retro styles, providing a mix of elegant form and rugged function. Finally, unique and creative materials are on display throughout, including carbon fiber, 3D-printed titanium, red gold, atomic diamond, and cobalt alloy. Luxury brands continue to find new and innovative ways to stand out and make their mark on the global watch industry.
Technavio’s global watch industry research report offers insights such as:
- CAGR of the market during the forecast period 2020-2024
- Detailed information on factors that will accelerate the growth of the watch market during the next five years
- Precise evaluation of the global watch market size and its contribution to the parent market
- In-depth predictions on upcoming trends and changes in consumer behavior
- The growth of the watch industry across APAC, Europe, MEA, North America, and South America
- A thorough analysis of the market’s competitive landscape and detailed information on vendors
- Comprehensive details of factors that will challenge the growth of watch vendors