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

CORDER’S COLUMN: Swatch Group super tanker is turning

Swatch Group has been growing more slowly than the wider Swiss watch market but looks poised for a major fight back.

Swatch Group’s share price is in the doldrums after falling 25% from a peak of CHF 342 in early March to CHF 257 this week.

But it is far from alone among luxury businesses to have suffered a reaction from the markets to this year’s economic headwinds.

Watches of Switzerland Group’s stock is down from an all time high of £14.70 to £6.13 this week.

Omega is in the news for all the wrong reasons with the Speedygate scandal denting trust in its archivists.

Overall, Swatch Group has been growing more slowly than the wider Swiss watch market.

Revenue rose by 2.5% in 2022 at prevailing exchange rates, while exports for the entire Swiss watch industry were up by 11.4%.

According to the annual Morgan Stanley report on the state of the Swiss watch industry, Longines and Tissot, Swatch Group’s second and third biggest brands after Omega, saw sales drop in 2022 by 22% and 12%, respectively, the only two brands among the top 20 Swiss watchmakers to register falling revenues last year.

However, this is not a column about kicking a company when it is down (it would be ludicrous to label a growing company with turnover last year of CHF 7.5 billion as down).

Quite the opposite.

What these figures and financial market reactions overlook is a vastly improving line up of products and signs that the group is finding its feet with innovative marketing initiatives and retail partnership programmes.

Swatch Group has consistently insisted it will never return to global trade shows after it turned its back on Baselworld in 2018.

All its major rivals looked long and hard at this decision, but almost all are now back at the revamped Watches and Wonders.

Swatch Group should do the same, in my opinion.

But investment in smaller, local marketing activations are working. Omega’s Her Time House in London this spring was a triumph.

Omega her time house 6 scaled

Rado’s three year sponsorship deal for the England men’s and women’s cricket teams, starting in time for this summer’s Ashes, has dramatically raised the brand’s profile with a British and global audience.

Rado is also the number two watch brand on Tiktok, with its most-watched video viewed by 5.1 million potential customers.

It is on the product front that Swatch Group is making the greatest strides.

Omega’s Seamaster range, including the Aqua Terras, has been improving for years, and this week’s unveiling of an entirely new suite to mark the family’s 75th anniversary, is a perfect mix of style, heritage and precision engineering.

Omega 220. 10. 38. 20. 03. 004 sea at wristshot woman
Omega’s 75th anniversary Seamaster Aqua Terra.

And I’m told the launch event in Mykonos was a good deal more fun than a grey day in Basel.

Longines’ line up better today than for many years.

Core collection Spirit and Hydroconquest watches hit all the right notes for today’s consumers.

But it is the somewhat unsung Legend Diver range’s blend of tradition, sporty styling and eye-catching colours that stand out for me.

Longines legend diver automatic stainless steel watch - l3. 374. 4. 40. 2
Longines Legend Diver.

Longines is unarguably the leader in its price range, in my view, with exceptional value for money watches in the £2,000 to £4,000 space.

Even more affordable, and no less desirable are the current collections from Tissot.

Prx35 rosegold t137 210 11 031 00 product kv
Tissot PRX.

The PRX has been a breakout hit since its reintroduction with quartz and automatic models in 2021, and powerful marketing campaigns across social media have introduced Tissot to an entirely new generation of young customers.

Tissot has followed up with the revival of its Sideral Powermatic collection of 1970s styled automatics in popping red, blue and yellow looks for under $1,000.

Tissot sideral
Tissot Sideral Powermatic.

Tissot, Longines and other Swatch Group brands such as Certina, Rado and Hamilton, benefit from the movement making of ETA, which is now all-but exclusively manufacturing for the group’s brands.

Purists will contest whether brands can therefore say they are using inhouse movements but, regardless, these are advanced calibres with production at scale that delivers excellent value for money.

Omega is rolling out boutiques, mostly with independents and major multiples, plus its own corporate monobrands.

Longines is just starting a similar programme.

Tissot needs stronger distribution, but it has a great story to tell to prospective partners.

Brands like Rado, Certina and Hamilton are likely to get noticed as they up their marketing games.

It is too early to say that all this activity is going to lead to a strong rebound for Swatch Group.

I personally think its key brands need to return to Watches and Wonders as part of a broader strategy to build the strongest possible relationships with the press and retailers (who have such a strong influence over consumers), but I recognise that many of their recent initiatives are designed with the same purpose, and cost a lot less than the reported $50 million per year the group sank into Baselworld at the end.

Swatch Group is a CHF 7.5 billion supertanker, which takes enormous forces to change course, but there have been discernible nudges to the tiller that are already delivering results.




Join the Conversation


  1. Hi Rob,

    Issue is that the Swiss watch industry in general is growing in value but not in volume. SG has been growing due to the Moonswatch. The Swiss should more emphasize on growing a younger audience for newer watches.

    As stated in the Morgan Stanley Report: The Swiss Watch Industry In 2022 the whole industry is actually decreasing in volume from 2022 compared to 2021 with 900k if we don’t take into account the Moonswatch.

    All big brands or conglomerates like SG LVMH Keiring Rolex Citizen should focus on entry level watches 9perhaps even by creating new brands that speak to a younger generation) with a strong mkt game and ATL as well as BTL communication to grow a so important younger customer base with a potential of turning these into long term customers. In the long run these young customers will up their watch game during their long term collecting journey. These groups should not be focusing on increasing those prices for eternity cause that will bite them in the #ss sooner or ltr.

    You guys stated last week that even in 2023 we are YTD 11.3% up to 2022. But…. Gold plat rose up 19.8% in volume and 14.4% in value and steel 4.3% vol 6.1% value. So they are kind of continue to raise prices by pumping out more precious metal with higher price. And then these numbers are really strongly influenced by the results of the Big Crown which is just a different kind of league.

    For the SG it is also a very frightening sight when you look at most of their brands in the top 20 ranking that almost all are showing a downward trend. Tissot is falling from from top 6 position in 2017 to top 11 in 2022, Longines from 4 to 7, Breguet and Radio disappeared out of top 20 and of course Omega went from 2 to 3. All in all very weak performance all across all of the brands compared to their peers in the top 20. So besides their lower priced propositions they also loose rapid market share in their luxury brands like Blancpain, Breguet and Omega. Only van Cleef is quite steady.

    So increasing prices is the wrong approach. I can understand a slight price increase because of the inflation, but here it is counter-productive for most of the brands. For Rolex, Patek, AP and others, it is a way to cut the crazy second-hand prices in combination with vertical integration by getting control of distribution through closing retail outlets and initiating CPO programs, but for the others it it a dangerous game. After 20 years of average price increases year after year, the industry is losing volumes more and more and it is not good.

  2. Great analysis Wouter. I should have mentioned the MoonSwatch effect, but I do think that Tissot is coming up with some great entry point watches.

  3. Lots in there. However I think you missed what I believe are the greatest failures of SG: Blancpain, Breguet, Harry Winston, Jaquet Droz and Glashutte Original.

    The overwhelming message of the morgan stanley reports for the past few years and even the simple facts of the FH export numbers is the ‘premiumization’ of the swiss watch industry with money flooding into the top end of the industry and demand (because its numbers AND pricing growing at the top) exploding. And yet, we see the top end SG brands apparently languishing as others grow and move up the league tables around them.

    Sure, Longines and below are struggling but in their defense they are battling terrific headwinds. There is no excuse for the failures of the top end of Swatch.

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