Luxury Watches Boost Swatch

The 2004 sales of the Swatch Group rose 4.7 percent to $3.49 billion, propelled by double-digit sales in upscale and luxury watches, says a February report from the Group, which noted that production of watches, movements, and components also rebounded. The report forecast “dynamic” 2005 sales.

Watch sales rose 9.1 percent in 2004, despite adverse effects of currency exchanges, especially the strong Swiss franc and weak dollar. Sales of components and electronics also grew.

Prestige, luxury, and top-market watches—which represent half of the Group’s 19 brands—achieved double-digit growth (over 13 percent), while other watches posted single-digit growth. Thanks to targeted efforts in product and marketing, the luxury Breguet brand enjoyed strong gains, and Blancpain, Glashütte, Jaquet Droz, Léon Hatot, Omega, Longines, and Rado all strengthened their positions. “Omega, which made the most significant contribution to growth in absolute terms, raised its average prices in many markets and extended its absolute leadership position,” the report says.

In the midprice range, Tissot and cK posted high single-digit growth. In the mass market, growth in the signature Swatch and children’s Flik Flak brands was “more subdued,” the result of the strong Swiss franc against the weak dollar as well as strong competition from China.

The report also noted advances in the design and production of jewelry for Breguet, Léon Hatot, Omega, cK, and Swatch.