Sales of Rolex watches in the 12 months to June this year reached $1.5 billion, according to retail analyst NPD, which tracks point of sale transactions from hundreds of independent and retail groups across the United States.
Rolex is not the only brand benefiting from a surge of sales in prestige watches this year. “The $10,000 to $25,000 price band is up by 17%. When you get above $25,000, the growth is up 20%. That is amazing to see. As you go up the food chain it gets better and better,” says Reginald Brack, executive director, industry analyst — watches and luxury — for NPD.
Demand for Rolex is so strong that retailers are being trained in how to deal with disappointed customers who cannot get the watches they want. But there is no sign that the shortage of key models — steel sports models in particular — is dampening demand.
“Rolex annual sales alone are up at almost $1.5 billion in the United States,” Mr Brack reveals in an interview that will appear in the launch edition of WatchPro magazine for the United States in December.
Patek Philippe is also enjoying record sales in the United States this year. Combined with Rolex, the two brands account for 70% of all watches sold above a price of $5000, Mr Brack says. “If you are any other brand, you are either working to take some of that share back from Rolex and Patek Philippe or you are fighting over the remaining 30%,” he adds.
Cartier is a brand to watch, particularly for its women’s watches, according to NPD. “Women’s models are growing, especially at higher price points where growth is in the double digits. The big example for women’s watches is Cartier, which is doing phenomenally well. I can tell you that Cartier has the top selling model in four out of the five price bands we track, which is amazing to see. Cartier does not have the shortage of supply problems that some of the other brands do, so retailers always have stock, and the productivity of Cartier at retail is really impressive.
“People are starting to realize that they can get a brand new Cartier from a store for under $3000. They have so many popular models now that are under $5000. If you go up through all the price bands [for women’s models], it is number one in every one right up to $25,000+,” Mr Brack discloses.