Covid-19 may have taken its toll on economies and industries worldwide but there’s one area that seems to be returning to normality faster than others, and that’s the sale of new watches.
After they dipped by around a third this year, things are on the up in most regions, with China, the world’s largest market, the standout thanks to a jump of 78 percent in September alone. In our region, Oceania, sales have been down around 18% overall this year, but just 2.4 percent in September compared with the same month in 2019.
These figures come from the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry and are regarded as indicating the sector’s health, while reports from the secondary market suggest sales in New Zealand and Australia have remained buoyant throughout, an uplift in online transactions helping both markets. The latter won’t make up for the loss of walk-in customers or tourists, though, especially given that overseas visitors, in normal times, account for a good third of all sales.
But the signs are encouraging enough for brands to abandon plans to delay some new model launches and to end 2020 with a raft of releases designed to lure collectors back to the horological well.
The biggest news: Rolex’s 2020 product release, first scheduled for early in the year, then cancelled, has finally taken place. In addition to vibrantly coloured Oyster Perpetual models, new Rolexes include a slightly larger non-date Submariner (pictured above) with a black dial and a black Cerachrom rotating bezel – now 41mm – its bracelet modified with broader centre links, inside a new 3230 movement with a reserve of 70 hours. Joining it are a fresh Submariner with date, also 41mm and with an uprated movement and fresh two-tone and cosmetic options, and a new Sky-Dweller in yellow or rose gold on a rubber bracelet.
Their debut saw the immediate formation of a formidable wait list. As a result, you may have to look elsewhere for instant gratification, but the good news is there’s plenty else on offer, no matter your budget.
Here’s a selection that may be just the thing to bring a little glamour to any wrist – particularly with Christmas on the horizon:
Chopard’s Alpine Eagle Chronograph joins its distinctive sports watch range, here with a case and integrated bracelet in Lucent Steel A223, a stronger-than-steel alloy developed by Chopard in-house. Powered by a chronometer certified movement, the chrono is priced from $29,700.
Jaeger-LeCoultre’s new Polaris Mariner Date has a vibrant gradient blue dial, meets ISO 6425 specifications with an increased depth rating – from 200 to 300 metres – and brings stylistic touches and a sleek integrated bracelet to the party. Inside is a self-winding movement. $18,400.
This Grand Seiko 60th Anniversary model takes its inspiration from traditional Japanese armour and pops with a particular blue that denotes bravery and a gold case which the brand says reflects “a warrior's noble spirit”. Inside is a SpringDrive movement accurate to half a second a day. $69,800.
Omega’s Speedmaster "Silver Snoopy Award" 50th Anniversary features Snoopy in the small seconds sub-dial and, on the reverse, an animation of him travelling around the far side of the moon as the chronograph operates. The earth disk also rotates once a minute in tandem with the small seconds hand. $15,500.
The Monsieur de Chanel features a unique “jumping hour” movement that displays the hour in its own window at six o’clock while retrograde minutes are indicated by a dedicated hand. Luxe details range from the matt blue dial with bespoke typeface to the white-gold case. $67,500.
Longines’ Legend Diver gets a 42mm bronze case in this latest version, matched with a green dial refreshingly uncluttered by a date window. Power is a contemporary movement with a silicon balance spring. Rated to a depth of 300 metres, this watch comes with a recommended retail price of $4735.
Zenith’s DEFY Classic Carbon boasts a genuine first – a full carbon case and integrated carbon bracelet with a weight of just 65 grams. Every bracelet link is a piece of solid, milled carbon fibre, silky to the touch. An open-worked dial reveals the self-winding movement. $30,470.
Patek Philippe’s Grande et Petite Sonnerie 6301P houses one of the most challenging mechanisms yet, combining a grande sonnerie with a petite sonnerie and a minute repeater with twin barrels powering the patented strikework and movement. Cased in platinum with an enamel dial, this treasure is priced, fittingly, at around $1.9 million.
Hermès Slim Quantième Perpétuel has a 39.5mm case, here in titanium with gold or platinum for the bezel, crown and pushers. Distinguished by moon-phase and leap-year displays – and a creative arrangement of the numerals in the second time-zone sub-dial – it’s priced at around $47,600.
TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph Jack Heuer 88th Birthday Gold Limited Edition – a numbered edition of 188 watches, marking the recent birthday of the Carrera’s creator and the brand’s honorary chairman. This commemorative watch is presented in a 42mm gold case with an opaline dial, and the movement is self-winding. $28,255.
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