September 20, 2016

Boom and bust for luxury watch brands: Is watch hire the next big thing?

Britain’s vote to leave the EU resulted in an increase in sales for luxury watch and jewellery products for July and August due to the weak pound boosting tourist spending. Some watches can be acquired for 20-25% cheaper when purchased in the UK than buying the same item overseas. The Mr. Woolfe team certainly noticed a higher proportion of wealthy shoppers from the Far East in London’s watch boutiques this summer, some even buying multiple timepieces in one visit! Indicating now is a good time to be a collector in the current economic climate.

High sales in the UK due to the de-valued pound seems to be quite the reverse in once buoyant regions like Hong Kong, with weakening demand partly due to a Government crackdown on corruption and excess in China. Global geo-political developments, like Brexit, have clearly impacted the personal luxury products industry with the brands facing challenges in controlling their product offering across certain markets. For watch brands this will most certainly result in an adjustment in prices to reduce currency fluctuation advantages that allow customers to benefit by purchasing overseas. If industry rumours are to be believed, Rolex (a key benchmark player) plan to increase their prices by Q4 this year. This will put off UK buyers that may have had their sights on a high value item, only to have a further 10% added to their purchase.

rolex_submariner_hulk_london_pricetagRolex “Hulk” £6,050 RRP (Rolex.com), however, demand and waiting lists are commanding higher pre-owned prices.

Is luxury watch hire the next big thing?

A recent survey by Credit Suisse estimates that luxury watch sales have fallen by a mid-to-high single-digit percentage in the past two years, and they think those declines will continue falling into 2017 before they get better. Exports to the UK of Swiss watches fell by 26% for June. Asia markets indicated that inventory levels with wholesalers were and still are higher than previously thought—with the approximate value around CHF 2.2 billion. Similar inventory overbuild reports on a global level ring true with retailers around the world reporting high stock levels and sales slowing down for the likes of Richemont and Hermes International according to The Guardian a couple of weeks ago.

According to several sources tough times are ahead for Swiss watchmakers with global demand for luxury timepieces falling for several reasons. It appears that in the current climate consumers feel that they cannot justify a grand purchase, or perhaps find other new trends appealing (e.g. the rise in the popularity of smart-watches) or simply deciding not to buy a watch at all. Obviously this will continue to effect luxury brands, however, a solution certainly lies with a bespoke watch rental service that can open up multiple opportunities to both high-end brands and watch enthusiasts.

Mr. Woolfe allows those wanting to acquire that must have timepiece without having to worry about hurting their bank balance. With the importance of getting the most pleasure per pound, why not chose the luxury hire option and embrace the lifestyle you really want. Register with Mr. Woolfe for further updates.

Luxury on loan, the sensible option and win-win for all!

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