If the value of Swiss watch exports has slightly increased in 2019, the industry has been facing numerous challenges over the past years. Although high-end Swiss watches remain attractive, the low/mid-end segments have been under pressure as the smartwatch expansion seems to have come at the expense of the lower-priced Swiss timepieces.
Most watch brands are traditionally secretive about their sales figures. Independents usually do not communicate numbers – with the notable exception of Audemars Piguet. Listed groups such as Swatch, Richemont or LVMH do not provide details by brand in their financial statements.
Ever wondered just how big and popular some of the largest watch brands can get? MONOCHROME has listed the top 10 Swiss watch brands based on estimated 2019 sales. This article is based only on brands. As a comparison, the main actor of the Swiss watch industry is Swatch Group, with estimated sales of CHF 8,000 million in 2019 (8bn) – spread over 15 watch brands and multiple production sites, providing parts to the rest of the industry.
Disclaimer: This article is solely based on MONOCHROME’s own estimations, established by cross-checking different sources including data from Vontobel and Morgan Stanley over the past years, as well as our own knowledge of the industry. Estimates are for sales of watches only. MONOCHROME makes no representation as to their accuracy or completeness.
1 – ROLEX
- Estimated watch sales: ~ CHF 5,500 million
- Estimated number of watches sold: 950,000
“The Crown” is the undisputed leader of the luxury watch category and one of the most widely-known names in luxury. Controlled by the discreet Hans Wilsdorf foundation, the brand has cultivated and maintains a consistent brand image. If Rolex manufactures close to 1 million watches per year, its entire “professional” collection has become borderline unobtainable given its success…
2 – OMEGA
- Estimated watch sales: ~ CHF 2,350 million
- Estimated number of watches sold: 650,000
Omega is the other giant of the industry and the mightiest Swatch Group brand. The origin of the brand goes back as far as 1848. Omega is known for numerous achievements and has been involved in remarkable events. As the official timekeeper of the Olympic Games since 1932 and the creator of the first watch worn on the Moon, it has a reputation for quality. With its Master Chronometer certification, Omega has established a new industry benchmark for precision, performance and magnetic resistance.
3 – CARTIER
- Estimated watch sales: ~ CHF 1,700 million
- Estimated number of watches sold: 450,000
The “Jeweller of the Kings and King of Jewellers” is also one of the top watchmakers. The first mention of a watch in the Cartier records goes back as far as 1853. Owned by Switzerland-based Richemont, the brand is the main contributor to the profits of the group. A “generalist” watchmaker, Cartier produces a wide range of watches from accessible pieces to the most exquisite Haute Horlogerie or jewelled watches.
4 – LONGINES
- Estimated watch sales: ~ CHF 1,650 million
- Estimated number of watches sold: 1,600,000
Owned by Swatch Group for over 30 years, Longines was created in 1832 and can pride itself with one of the richest watchmaking traditions in the whole industry. Today, the brand stands out with a trusted name and excellent watches with an exceptional quality/price ratio.
5 – PATEK PHILIPPE
- Estimated watch sales: ~ CHF 1,500 million
- Estimated number of watches sold: 60,000
Still privately owned by the Stern family, Patek Philippe is usually regarded as the most exclusive and renowned brands among all Haute Horlogerie manufacturers. And when it comes to watches as an investment, Patek dominates the industry. Last fall, the Patek Philippe 6300A Steel “Only Watch 2019” became the most expensive watch ever auctioned at CHF 31 million… and its Nautilus is simply impossible to find at retailers.
6 – AUDEMARS PIGUET
- Estimated watch sales: ~ CHF 1,200 million
- Estimated number of watches sold: 40,000
Part of the “Holy Trinity” of Haute Horlogerie, together with Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin, Audemars Piguet remains an independent, family-owned business operating in the Vallée de Joux, the cradle of complicated watchmaking. The launch of the Royal Oak in 1972 marked a milestone in the brand’s history. Overturning prevailing codes, this icon of design defined the luxury sports watch genre.
7 – TISSOT
- Estimated watch sales: ~ CHF 1,000 million
- Estimated number of watches sold: 3,500,000
Created in 1853 in the Swiss Jura, Tissot boasts a long horological tradition. Today owned by Swatch Group, Tissot watches are the most accessible from this top ten (which explains the greater volume) and stand out with a remarkable price/quality ratio.
8 – IWC
- Estimated watch sales: ~ CHF 825 million
- Estimated number of watches sold: 100,000
IWC was founded by American watchmaker Florentine Ariosto Jones in 1868. Jones set up in Schaffhausen to combine American production technologies with Swiss craftsmanship and expertise. Owned by Richemont, the brand is famed for its engineering excellence. Besides its complex Haute Horlogerie creations, IWC is known for high-quality sports and everyday watches, including pilot watches and chronographs.
9 – HUBLOT
- Estimated watch sales: ~ CHF 670 million
- Estimated number of watches sold: 60,000
Hublot was founded in 1980 by Italian Carlo Crocco. The brand has enjoyed a spectacular development following the entry of Jean-Claude Biver with the launch of the Big Bang and flamboyant marketing initiatives. Today a company of LVMH, Hublot has enjoyed continuous growth to make its way among the largest players of the industry.
10 – TAG HEUER
- Estimated watch sales: ~ CHF 650 million
- Estimated number of watches sold: 500,000
Owned by LVMH, TAG Heuer was founded in 1868 by Edouard Heuer. The brand has a strong history of innovation (TAG meaning Techniques d’Avant-Garde) and is a reference when it comes to sports watches, in particular, racing chronographs.