Swiss watch market update


2015-06-26 12:59:53


Swiss watch market update

When it comes to the collectible watch market, the Swiss are leading the way

Think of the luxury watch market, and you think of Switzerland.

John Calvin's 1541 ban on the wearing of jewels prompted the region's craftsmen to turn their attentions to watches.

Graves Patek PhilippePatek Philippes old and new are major players at auctions

The country has remained at the forefront of the industry ever since, barring a worrying time for traditional watchmakers in the 1970s and 1980s, when it appeared many buyers were only interested in the latest electronic contraptions.

Gladly, classically made timepieces are again driving the top end of the market.

This has been a great boon for the Swiss watch market, with exports up from 4.3bn francs in 1986 to 19.3bn in 2011, or 6.19% pa.

Demand is highest for Swiss watches in Asia and Oceania, which accounts for 56% of all Swiss watch exports.

When it comes to auctions, the investment grade pieces fall into two camps: classic timepieces and modern rarities.

Several manufacturers span both eras. Patek Philippe is one such company. A 1942 example made $2.8m in 2010, yet its 1992 Ref. 3974 sold for $902,500 in April this year, a record for a single dial Patek Philippe.

Other classic brands still producing collectible watches today include Chopard, Breitling and Longines.

One of the newest kids on the block is Franck Muller. His eponymous company is behind the Aeternitas Mega 4, the world's most complicated watch, which boasts 483 components, 99 jewels and 36 complications.

Sold to US watch collector Michael J Gould for $2.7m in 2009, the unique watchis one of several Franck Muller limited run creations that are proving a major draw to collectors - and an indication that Swiss watches look set to dominate the collectibles market for decades, or make that centuries to come.

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