The United Kingdom is reportedly the largest market in the world for Patek Philippe, a statistic that the brand will not confirm but does the rounds among its authorized dealers.
There are only 22 accounts for the brand in the country managing 38 doors.
The United States has almost exactly double the number of doors — 76 in total — but is eclipsed in sales if conversations with dealers are to be believed.
The strategy for Patek Philippe in the UK is no different to the United States, which is to work with the very best retail partners and to give them unstinting loyalty as long as it is unstintingly returned.
John Robinson, managing director of Patek Philippe authorized dealer David M Robinson, which has showrooms in London and Manchester, describes Patek Philippe and Rolex as the most trusted brands in the business.
“The key word is trust,” he tells WatchPro in our Big Interview to be published in the UK edition of the magazine in October.
“We trust them implicitly, and I hope they trust us the same way. I have to take my hat off to the way both Rolex and Patek Philippe are run. Patek Philippe was not the same company 20 years ago that it is today. Mark Hearn and his team have done a sterling job. The investment they have made in the brand has been huge. It’s [success is] the reward for doing the right thing, for loyalty, for high standards and patience,” he adds.
Every authorized dealer in the United States and Britain tells WatchPro the same story. Patek Philippe demands high standards from its authorized dealers, and that requires investment in infrastructure, retail environments and training.
In return, Patek Philippe forges the strongest and most trusted partnerships in the industry, allowing its retailers to invest long term with confidence.
Patek Philippe customers benefit from building relationships with their authorized dealers, and the results also feed through into the some of strongest financial results in the British watch industry for both the brand and its partner retailers.
Rhone Products (UK) Limited, the trading name for Patek Philippe’s wholly-owned UK distributor, published its 2018-19 accounts this week for the year ending January 31 and show sales rising by 5% to a new record of £163 million. Operating profit rose by 28% to £22 million.
That is £4.3 million worth of Patek Philippe watches ($5.4m) being bought — wholesale — on average by every store authorized to sell its products or about $7.5 million per store in retail sales.
The rumor that the UK is the biggest market in the world for Patek Philippe is plausible. Global turnover for the brand was estimated by Morgan Stanley in 2018 to be CHF 1.35 billion ($1.37bn).
UK turnover of £163 million ($203m) would be almost 15% of the global total.
To put that in context, the USA accounted for just over 10% of all Swiss watch exports in 2018, making it the second largest market in the world and far larger than the UK, which accounted for under 6%.
In other words, Patek Philippe is outperforming almost all other brands in the UK on a per-door basis, and its UK business appears to be punching well above its weight in comparison to the United States and other world markets.