It’s not been good news of late for Swiss watchmakers in China. Timepiece sales have tumbled amid warnings from the chairman of revered watchmakers Patek Philippe.
It was Thierry Stern who had foretold in 2011 not to overspend in the Far Eastern territories and he has proved to be correct as sales in China have taken a downward curve.
These timely comments have seen the shrewd maestro reduce the number of models Patek sell to around the 130 mark across the whole of China.
This is in the wake of several other brands flourishing in the last twelve months including the likes of Omega and Cartier.
In addition to this, Stern predicted just two years previously that the sector would grind to a halt;
“I’m not willing to jeopardise the relationships that we have in the world with all the retailers just to tell them, thank you for your help, but after a hundred years, now I go to China”
Thierry Stern, Chairman, Patek Philippe
In fact, there has been a near 15% decline as far as watch sales in the Far East are concerned. Meanwhile, other reports have emerged via the grapevine that a host of other brands are turning their attention elsewhere amid the growing downward trend.
Last month, Hermes International declared they had suffered a significant loss in their own watch sales across the Chinese sector.
LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton has also reported a large dent to their watch sales as fewer consumers in China dip into their previously bulging pockets.
But this has not stopped China from importing a large quantity of Swiss made watches, which in 2012 amounted to a quarter of the overall total. However brace yourselves for a summer storm as some are predicting a huge downturn in 2013 that is set to rival the 22% drop back in 2009.
So what has happened to the finances of the good people at LMVH? It appears the tide has turned for the corporation as a near 4% drop has come amid less demand in Asia for their goods although watches saw a small increase by 2%.
Patek Philippe’s Stern believes that customers in China who have the ability to spend around a quarter of a million dollars or 30,000 Swiss francs would tend to purchase them overseas.
This is backed up by the staggering levels of watch sales throughout Europe by Chinese consumers which now amounts to an impressive 20%.
Omega President Stephen Urquhart is counting his own chickens in the UK market but is still focused on expanding the business to developing territories such as Russia and Brazil.
This is especially in preparation for the upcoming Olympic Games as well as the FIFA World Cup which are taking place in both countries.
He added, “The Chinese consumer is still there. One thing is certain, more and more Chinese are travelling and buying watches abroad.”