As early as last April, Swiss watch execs shared that the market was “slowing down.” Although exports of timepieces reportedly rose 7.6 per cent in 2023, the rate of sales slumped to 3.6 per cent in the second half of the year from 11.8 per cent in the first half. Despite this, one of the industry’s top manufacturers, Patek Philippe, is now bucking the trend with increased prices.
The Swiss watchmaker raised prices across its model lines globally on 1 February, Bloomberg reports. Information on its website indicates that prices have gone up by an average of about 7 per cent. The 5236 perpetual calendar now comes with a US$10,000 (HK$78,210) increase, formerly priced at £113,330 (HK$1.11 million), that now retails for £121,100 (HK$1.19 million). Experts say Patek’s price hikes shows it believes it has sufficient brand and pricing power to offset rising input costs and a strong Swiss franc without spoiling demand for its watches.
The news follows Rolex’s 2024 price hike in the UK. Last month, the watchmaker raised rates at English dealers by an average of about 4 per cent at the start of the year, according to a report by analysts at Barclays. For perspective, the Rolex Air King jumped from £6,250 (HK$61,755) in 2023 to £6,500 (HK$64,225) this year. Rolex prices at US dealers were not increased this year, but in 2023, both US and UK prices for the brand jumped by an average of 2.5 per cent.
During and coming out of the pandemic, Swiss watchmakers increased their prices amid an unprecedented boom. Well-heeled consumers have since pulled back on the purchase of luxury timepieces, largely due to rising interest rates and a general slowdown in consumer spending, Fortune claims. Omega and Breguet parent company, Swatch Group AP, said in a statement last month that its 2023 prices were not enough to offset the strength of the Swiss franc. With Patek’s latest hikes now effective across all model lines and regions, only time will tell how the shift effects its year-end results.
The watchmaker has reportedly discontinued several timepieces in its line-up, including the Aquanaut Travel Time, as a result of its changes this month. But don’t fret. At last year’s Watches & Wonders showcase, it unveiled a host of exciting new novelties for you to strap on your wrist. It also released seven new jewelled watches last fall that are ideal for making a statement. And, Patek Philippe president, Thierry Stern, promised a new collection for 2024, so stay tuned.