U.S. Watch and Clock Market Could Top $9.5 Billion by 2010

The U.S. watch and clock market dropped 3.7 percent between 2001 and 2005, to $8.6 billion in retail sales, partly because of competition from other devices that tell time. But it should rebound to more than $9.5 billion, a 10.6 percent increase, by 2010, says Packaged Facts, a leader in consumer goods research, in the seventh edition of its “Watches and Clocks in the U.S.” report.

Watches slipped 4.9 percent between 2001 and 2005, to $7.6 billion on about 90 million units. The Packaged Facts report says the U.S. watch and clock market has faced “extraordinary circumstances” since 2001. It notes that cell phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), cable boxes, laptops, personal computers, iPods, DVD players, and fax machines “provide all the time readouts one needs.” Such devices— along with the services that go with some of them—also siphon consumers’ discretionary dollars, leaving less to spend on watches and clocks.

Clocks finished 2005 with $990 million in U.S. retail sales, down 3.6 percent from 2001 figures. That’s partly because of their “banishment” from public spaces, which Packaged Facts dubs “the casino effect” (because casinos have no visible clocks).

The report expects both categories to bounce back by 2010, with U.S. watch sales reaching $8.4 billion, a 10.5 percent rebound, and clocks hitting $1.1 billion, a 10.5 percent gain. Don Montuori, publisher of Packaged Facts, explains that watch and clock marketers use sophisticated fashion-inspired, high-tech, and sports designs to keep consumers coming back. “High-profile licensing, particularly pervasive in kids’ watches and clocks, will continue to be a strong sales driver, [as will] designer names and logos” in all price tiers, he adds. The report also cites increasing sophistication in personal appearance, which will create fashion-brand licensing opportunities for watch marketers; the growing number of U.S. households; and more sophisticated interior decoration, which will help clocks.

Here are other highlights from the report:

  • A third of U.S. adults (69.9 million people) bought watches between 2004 and 2005.

  • Two thirds were women, whose “significantly above-average” proportion, suggests the report, may be due to “their desire to accessorize, or their tendency to more frequently buy inexpensive watches, rather than the very occasional expensive heirloom.” More women buy watches under $100, more men above $200, though the report (citing Cartier Inc.) notes women buy a third of all luxury watches ($1,000 and up).

  • Others with above-average watch-buying incidences include students, people earning $10,000–$20,000, and members of ethnic minorities.

  • Half of U.S. adults bought watches priced under $50. One in five (21 percent) bought watches priced $100 or more.

  • Young adults (18–24) have “a surprising affinity for pricier watches,” from $50 to $500+. “It seems status symbols, and perhaps luxury gadgetry, are more important to the young,” suggests the report.

  • Watch and clock marketers spent $233 million on advertising in 2005 (almost all for watches), says Packaged Facts, citing TNS Media Intelligence/CMR data. That’s 50.7 percent over 2003 and 2.7 percent of the market’s 2005 retail sales.

U.S. Retail Sales of Watches and Clocks, 2001—2010*
*In Billions of Dollars

Source: Packaged Facts
Watches Clocks Overall Market
Year $ % Change $ % Change $ % Change
2010 8.41 0.9 1.10 0.5 9.51 0.8
2009 8.33 2.8 1.10 3.5 9.43 2.9
2008 8.10 2.8 1.06 3.0 9.16 2.8
2007 7.88 2.8 1.03 3.0 8.91 2.8
2006 7.67 0.8 1.00 1.0 8.67 0.8
2005 7.61 –4.9 9.90 –2.2 8.60 –4.6
2004 8.00 1.5 1.01 1.5 9.01 1.5
2003 7.88 2.3 0.1 3.5 8.88 2.5
2002 7.70 –3.8 0.96 4.5 8.67 –2.9
2001 8.01 3.8 0.92 –2.7 8.93 0.0

“Watches and Clocks in the U.S.,” seventh edition, is priced at $3,000. For information, visit MarketResearch.com.