Boris Johnson’s brush with death caused watch sales to crash


Chronext, a secondary market luxury watch trader based in Germany, says that the UK’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic impacted sales far more than in countries with the most successful containment strategies, such as Germany and Switzerland. 

The company’s CEO, Philipp Man, told WatchPro over a Zoom call that he had seen a “disproportionate drop off in demand in the UK”.

In most of its key markets, Chronext saw the steepest drops in sales in the first weeks of March, but activity started to pick up in the second half of the month.


Demand continued to rise through April and May, and returned to pre-pandemic levels in June.

The UK was an exception, particularly in early April, when prime minister Boris Johnson was hospitalized with the virus and news emerged that he was fighting for his life.

Mr Johnson was admitted into a London hospital on April 6 and discharged on April 12.

“When we really saw a drop off in demand in the UK was when Boris Johnson had to go to hospital. That is when people really saw how real the situation was and how [the country] might not have been dealing with it correctly,” Mr Man reveals.

The UK’s ruinous lock down, which has quarantined the working age population who are at very low risk of dying from Covid-19 while allowing the virus to run wild among the most vulnerable elderly population, has paralyzed the retail sector.

Sales through brick and mortar retail dropped by around 97% in April, according to GfK.

Seen from the continent, Britain’s response looks out of proportion. “In German and Switzerland, the weather has been great and people do not have such a gloomy attitude. It feels much more like an epidemic in the UK,” Mr Man suggests.




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