Who are the champions of unit sales in the luxury segment. Our last top 10 presented the top ten contributors to the Swiss watch business ranked by their 2013 sales. But what happens if we look only at the luxury watch segment? Worldtempus lists the top 10 brands by units sold in 2013 at more than 3,000 Swiss francs ex-factory and 8,000 Swiss francs retail (estimates from the Vontobel bank’s report on the watch industry).
1. Rolex. Used to being in first place, the famous brand is once again at the top of the pile. In 2013 it sold no less than 750,000 timepieces worldwide, enough to make its competitors green with envy. The brand has a 20% market share in the luxury segment.
2. Omega. Once again in a good position the brand named after the Greek vowel stands shoulder to shoulder with Cartier in all the lists. Although it was behind its competitor in our previous top 10, it sold 720,000 units last year – more than its French rival.
3. Cartier. French prestige and chic once again make the podium. Having sold 650,000 timepieces in 2013, the Richemont Group brand is way ahead of its nearest challengers.
4. Breitling. The brand steeped in aviation history makes it into the luxury top 10 with a range whose ex-factory prices start at 2,500 Swiss francs, making it affordable for retailers. As a result, its sales hit 165,000 units in 2013.
5. IWC. In the middle of the table, the brand established in Schaffhausen in 1868 by the American watchmaker Florentine Ariosto Jones sold 100,000 units last year.
6. Chopard. The jeweller to the stars is also doing well in watch sales. Although the brand was missing from our previous top 10, it makes this one with 80,000 units sold in 2013.
7. Jaeger-LeCoultre. The company based in Le Sentier famous for its numerous innovations is also a success with the watch-buying public. It sold over 75,000 units worldwide last year.
8. Panerai. The Florentine of the Richemont Group, established in 1860, also makes it into our top 10. It had a turnover of 415 million Swiss francs in 2013, having sold around 70,000 timepieces over the year.
9. Patek Philippe. The ninth place is explained by the aim to address a highly exclusive clientele, with 55,000 units sold last year. Its ex-factory prices start at 10,000 Swiss francs, putting the traditional brand at the highest level of luxury watchmaking.
10. Hublot & Zenith. The two sister brands of the LVMH group are tied in tenth place with 40,000 units sold in 2013.
Comparison is not reason
Warning! Making a list means making choices, favouring one indicator over another. Doing so in the fragmented luxury watch segment is even more challenging. Putting the brands into a hierarchy means asking yourself what sets them apart and indicates their value. Should we restrict ourselves just to sales or profit? Or does the brand offer something more subtle, a history, a culture, a tradition, that makes it attractive to the customer, fosters loyalty and – ultimately – allows its to conquer new markets? The answer to these questions can probably be found at the intersection of all these data, between the quantities produced for the market, the quality offered to customers and, of course, the margins the brands achieve. But if there is a lot more behind the brand than its balance sheet, in other words an image, a series of propositions that make it so valuable in the eyes of the customer, how can we put a genuine value on a brand? Find the answer to this question in one of the next top 10s on WorldTempus.