Is London the Holy Grail of luxury watch sales?


With a bustling tourism trade and all of the biggest brands represented, London the pinnacle of luxury watch retail in the UK. or is it? Rachael Taylor looks at the division of spend between London and the UK and ask which styles sell best where.

Bond Street. Harrods. Selfridges’ Wonder Room. In London, you are never far from a luxury watch boutique, and with a high concentration of wealthy residents and a constant influx of tourists with cash to burn at the ready, it’s not hard to see why the capital attracts boutiques from the top horology players.

But is London quite the luxury watch Mecca that it is made out to be? Well it would certainly seem that watch sales are on the rise in the city.

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The majority of UK luxury watch sales – watches with sales prices of £1,000 or more – do not pass through London, according to retail analyst GfK. In fact the figure sits at 40.1% of sales values according to data taken from November 2011 to October 2012.

This figure is on the rise, however, with sales in of luxury watches in London up on the previous year’s figures, which had the figure at 38.2%. That is a value growth of 15.5%.

In London the average price of a watch in the above £1,000 category over the past 12 months has been £4,540. While it might not have the majority in terms of sales values over the regions – although as a single city it far trumps any other UK hub – it does have the upper hand on average sales price.

And of those shoppers pitching up in London looking for luxury watches, what are they seeking out? It would seem that the timepieces showing the strongest growth are those with leather straps, up 35% year on year, and those with gold and steel cases, up 34%. Chronographs are also a growing market for London watch retailers, but ceramic watches in this category have declined, with sales down 6.3%.

So while London seems a pretty healthy watch market for the flush shopper, where else in the UK is competing to be a hub for luxury timepiece sales? It would seem that the answer lies in the Midlands. In the period from November 2011 to October 2012 its market share of this segment sat at 14.5%, although this has decreased on the previous year.

The average sale price in the Midlands was £3,208, so less than London, but still a significant price point, and GfK says that this figure is not the highest out of the regional average price points to be found outside of London.

Just like London, sales of leather straps and gold and steel cases are also on the rise in the Midlands, with growth of 23% and 3%, but a key difference is that sales of ceramic watches in the Midlands are still growing, albeit with just a slight increase of 0.75%.

This article was taken from the January 2013 issue of WatchPro. To read the magazine online, click here.



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