Rob corder
WATCHPRO editor-in-chief and co-founder Rob Corder.

CORDER’S COLUMN: Tremendous growth for Audemars Piguet, but UK is still dominated by Rolex and Patek Philippe

Rolex sales are ten times higher than those of Audemars Piguet in the UK, and Patek Philippe is three times bigger.

Audemars Piguet has almost doubled its sales in the UK since before the pandemic, with turnover touching £63 million in 2022.

But the watchmaker is still three times smaller than Patek Philippe, which notched sales of £187 million for the comparable financial year in this country.

Rolex is yet to publish its 2022 accounts, but it was more than ten times bigger than AP in 2021, and likely to have remained so.

The picture is quite different if you look at global figures based on estimates by Morgan Stanley in its annual report on the Swiss watchmaking industry.

Ap patek rolex turnover

Worldwide, Rolex’s turnover was estimated at CHF 9.3 billion in 2022, which is only 4.6 times higher than Audemars Piguet’s £2.0 billion.

Patek Philippe’s sales were estimated at CHF 1.8 billion, roughly neck-and-neck with AP globally, but Patek is three times bigger in the UK.

This picture of market share in the UK between three of the top five Swiss watchmakers by turnover exposes what a mountain AP has to has been climbing since it was all-but absent from this market after a protracted dispute with its former distributor.

The current Audemars Piguet (UK) Ltd was only incorporated in 2008, and its accounts for that year show turnover was just £2 million.

All else being equal, AP’s UK sales should be around three times higher than last year’s £63 million, which suggests there is considerable room for growth at its three London points of sale and a new AP House it is opening in Manchester later this year.

It seems remiss that there is currently no way to buy an AP watch outside of London.

Finding a route to opening in Leeds, Glasgow and possibly Liverpool and Dublin would hit the major hot spots, and certainly makes more sense to me than having two boutiques within 200 metres in Knightsbridge, and none outside the capital.

Another comparison that caught my eye between the relative performance of Rolex, Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe in the UK is there profitability.

Ap patek rolex operating profit

A simple division of turnover by operating profit sees a margin of 11.8% for Audemars Piguet in the UK. The comparable figure for Patek Philippe in 2021-22 was almost half that at 6.3%.

Rolex notched up a mighty operating profit of £91.5 million in 2021 (the most recent financial year reported), but that was a margin of 5.7%, the lowest of the three.


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1 Comment

  1. I wonder if Audemars Piguet could increase its turnover and sell more watches if it sold in multi-brand stores, or increased the number of AP Boutiques. AP might just be happy with not selling more units, but making extra margin for each watch sold since it doesn’t lose any of the sale to an Authorized Dealer. On the other hand, you think the brand may want to increase the number of its boutiques in the UK so it can reach more buyers. Although, it can be happy with its current marketshare. Only the AP executives know these answers, unless Mr. Corder asks them…

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