When it comes to luxury watch retail, there’s so much untapped potential in the US and our expansion across the pond is already proving this is the case. Our CEO Brian Duffy talks about our expansion into the US, the challenges we face and our experience of the American market so far.
In the past six months, we’ve opened Watches of Switzerland at 60 Greene Street in SoHo, Boston’s new Encore hotel, a relocated store in Las Vegas’s Wynn resort and a flagship store in New York’s Hudson Yards. This is a phenomenal project that we are proud of. Our horological brand partners and customers are also delighted with the new stores. They are modern, spacious, inviting and fun, and most importantly they offer some of the finest watch brands in the world.
Whilst there are some high-quality, influential retailers in the US, there hasn’t been the same level of investment in the large multi brand watch store formats that we have built in the UK. Our ‘Golden Triangle’ stores in London (Regent Street, Knightsbridge and Oxford Street) have been a success and now you’ll find some of our most beautiful stores in the US.
Whether you’re in our flagship showroom on London’s Regent Street or browsing our Greene Street store in SoHo, you’ll find people who share a passion for Swiss watchmaking and craftsmanship. The same goes for the main horological players. Our biggest demand in the US is still for the likes of Rolex and Patek Philippe, as is the case in the UK. Whether it’s Rolex’s Professional range or Patek Philippe’s Nautilus, demand is high on both sides of the Atlantic. Some things never change, wherever you are.
For me, one of the great things about having this new international presence is learning about different tastes and preferences. We’ve found that there’s a really informed community of watch lovers in the US, especially around independent and specialist brands. That’s encouraged us to think about our UK offering. As an example, Grand Seiko has been very successful in SoHo, so now we offer the brand in our UK showrooms. Bovet has also performed really well in Las Vegas, so we’ve introduced it to the UK. This interest in owning a wristwatch with a difference means the vintage market is also very strong in the US.
“One of the great things about having this new international presence is learning about different tastes and preferences”
Customers are curious about models that were unusual and highly desirable during their time, with a story to tell. So we’ve partnered with Analog/Shift, which sources fascinating pre-1985 timepieces that include OMEGA Speedmasters to Rolex Submariners. The pre-owned market is also performing well, especially online. It’s only a matter of time before we extend into that area in our Watches of Switzerland US stores.
At present, we’re most excited that our US customers can now shop on the Mayors and Watches of Switzerland websites. Online watch sales are not as popular in the US compared to the UK, so there’s a lot of growth potential there, and we’ll be investing in that sector and using our experience in the UK to do so. Our conviction is that there is room for the luxury watch market in the US to grow, and we believe that we can increase the market rather than taking share from existing players. Our experience so far has been ahead of our expectations, so we are excited to see what will happen next.
Whether you are in the UK or the US, come and visit one of our showrooms where our watch experts will be able to assist you to find your perfect watch. You can also browse a wide selection of luxurious timepieces online in the UK or the US.
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