Hodinkee: Strong U.S. Economy Boosts Watch Sales 9%

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U.S. Steel Watch Shortage Good For Gold hodinkee.com’s headline reveals. I’m not sure why Hodinkee decided that America’s horological gold rush is market researcher NPD’s most important finding. My key takeaway from their takeaway:

“U.S. sales for watches above $1,000 are up 13% year-to-date in value,” [NPD’s watch and luxury industry analyst Reg] Brack said.

“This is primarily due to men’s watches with MSRPs above $3,000. That segment is up 16% . . . The luxury category helped boost total U.S. watch sales by 9% to $3.6 billion in H1 2019 versus H1 2018.

With Patek and Rolex capturing 70 percent of the $10k-plus price U.S. watch market (2018 stat), Mr. Brock reckons it’s a case of “the rich are still getting richer.”

Maybe it’s a case of more people getting richer? Or maybe the already rich have decided the time’s right to push boat out (as Brits say) and splurge on a pricey timepiece?

Anyway, even if you take the Hong Kong slump out of the equation, there’s a dark cloud on the horological horizon for traditional watchmakers at the mid- to low-end of the market:

Sales in the middle and low range of the U.S. watch market below $1,000 were down 15% in H1 2019 compared to the same period a year ago, according to NPD. Sales below $500 were down 16%. 

 The main reason, Brack said, is smartwatches. U.S. smartwatch sales are booming, up 24% in the first half of 2019. 

While the high-end of the watch market recovers from a three-year slump —  and how — the battle for the wrists of middle America continues, with smartwatches continuing to kick traditional timepieces’ ass.

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