Swiss watchmakers are turning to digital technology
Swiss watchmakers are turning to digital technology

The luxury Swiss watchmaker is launching an all-new digital event called Watchs & Wonders to showcase the latest products in hopes of resuming sales affected by the coronavirus crisis.

High-end watchmakers still mostly rely on physical stores to sell their products. However, the success of online watch platforms such as WatchBox or Watchfinder shows that it is possible to sell luxury watches online.

Factory and store closures have affected Swiss watch sales over the past year, forcing brands to expand their small stores (usually online) and to rethink digital stores frequently.

“One of the reasons Hermès has been exceptionally performing in the watch industry over the past year is because its customers have made a habit of shopping on their website,” said Guillaume de Seynes, Hermes Group Executive Vice President.

The Hermes group, known for its leather products and fragrances, is using it to enter e-commerce as a professional watchmaker.

De Sense expects sales of the group's watches to rebound strongly this year, in line with 28% growth in the fourth quarter of 2020.

It is estimated that only about 2% of Swiss watches by value are currently sold online, and their share varies from brand to brand.

Some luxury Swiss watch brands like Patek Philippe and Rolex prefer to insist on selling their products in traditional stores, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

The CEO of Patek Philippe said: Online sales are not an option for us and the experience with retailers on the first stop confirms this strategy because people do not want to buy Patek Philippe online, so the price of the watch is very expensive and because of this, it loses its beauty.

The luxury watchmaker expects sales to rebound this year after a 20% drop in sales in 2020, but it doesn't expect any increase in sales until 2019.

The CEO of WatchBox, a used watch platform, said that during the pandemic, customers are actively interacting with brands when actively searching for information online.

In response to this trend, Patek Philippe has invested in digital capabilities, hiring employees and creating a studio to provide high-quality demonstrations of virtual products.

Small independent brand H. Moser & Cie has also invested in digital pre-Watches & Wonders.

Bulgari said: “E-commerce has grown exponentially and we have expanded our technology to make ourselves accessible to customers.

Watches & Wonders give media and retailers access to demos from 38 participating brands.

Oris said: The brand has launched activities to closely communicate with customers through Instagram and launched a watch for its online community through Zoom.

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