Britain powers back to become fourth largest watch market in the world


The total value of watch sales in the UK had already risen to above pre-pandemic 2019 levels by the summer of this year.

In the months since, sales have continued to rise with September’s figure, supplied to WATCHPRO by GfK 12.9%, higher than the same month last year.


Going back two months to July, alone, the total value of watch sales in Great Britain was 34% higher in 2021 than in the same month in 2019.

The sharp drop in sales during the first wave and lock down in 2020 is dwarfed by the huge spike since spring this year.

The rise in revenue is still being driven by customers paying higher average prices so that, while the value of sales rose by 12.9% in September, the volume of sales fell by 5.9%.

The average transaction value in September was 20% higher than the same month last year.

For the year to date, average transaction values are up 55%.

There are early signs of the market cooling for the most expensive watches since the summer — perhaps a sign that pent up demand after lock downs is being satiated.

Sales for watches priced at over £10,000 have risen by over 75% since the beginning of 2021, but for September the year on year increase was clipped to just 6%.

The market for watches in the £3,000 to £10,000 price bracket is now growing fastest in Britain at around 25% YoY in September.


Footfall across all UK shopping destinations recovered to just 10.9% below 2019 levels over half term for much of the country last week, according to Springboard data.

This increase in physical shopping is feeding through to online watch sales dropping towards pre-pandemic levels.

For the year to date, online watch sales have risen by 12% compared to the first nine months of 2020 and for September, they had fallen by 4.1% YoY.

London watch sales growth is slower than for the rest of Great Britain, up 9.4% in the capital in September compared to a rise of 19.2% for the rest of the mainland.

For the first nine months of 2021, growth across the country has been even, rising by 61.9% in London and 60.4% in the rest of Great Britain.

GfK’s positive data is matched by rising Swiss watch exports to the UK.

In September, the Swiss sold us watches valued at CHF 138.5 million, up from 112.8 million for the same month last year and also higher than the CHF 122.8 million in September 2019.

The figure places the UK as the fourth largest market in the world for Swiss watches, overtaking Japan, and on a trajectory to overtake Hong Kong in third place if current trends continue.

The USA is on track to become the world’s largest market for Swiss watches this year, ahead of both Honk Kong and mainland China for the first time in over a decade.


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