Rolex production dropped by 140,000 units (19%) last year to 810,000 timepieces last year but still gained market share as brands from LVMH, Swatch Group and Richemont contracted faster.
Turnover for Rolex dropped by 14% to CHF 4.42 billion, according to a Morgan Stanley and LuxConsult research paper on the Swiss watch industry in 2020 thanks to an average increase in price per watch of around 5%.
Based on an implied retail sales value of CHF 8 billion, Rolex is now thought to have 24.9% of the global market for Swiss watches compared to 22% in 2019.
The entire Swiss watch industry is estimated to have shrunk by one third in 2020, according to the Morgan Stanley report, which has input from Oliver Muller, principal of Geneva-based LuxConsult.
The Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry reports that exports dropped by 21.8% in 2020.
Omega remains the second largest Swiss watchmaker in the world with retail sales of CHF 2.8 billion from 500,000 units sold last year, a dramatic fall from 794,000 in 2019.
Cartier managed to increase the number of watches it sold from 410,000 in 2019 to 490,000 in 2020 but the average selling price fell by 30%.
Swatch Group’s Longines and Tissot shipped more watches than any other brand in the top 20 at 1.5 million and 2.4 million respectively, but their watches are also the least expensive. Longine’s average retail price (excluding sales tax) was CHF 1,313 (down from CHF 1,582 in 2019) while Tissot watches cost an average of CHF 415, down from CHF 739.
Performance from watch brands owned by publicly listed groups — LVMH, Swatch Group, Richemont and Kering — were outperformed by privately-owned operations including Rolex/Tudor, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet and Breitling.