The right time for luxury watch stores


London and New York could provide key opportunities for luxury watch brands seeking to expand in 2018 and beyond. 


According to international real estate adviser Savills, 44% of brands that operate standalone boutiques globally are not yet present in either city. By contrast, the firm says 73% of such brands already have a boutique in Paris.

Overall, Savills reports that total new luxury watch store openings fell globally in 2017, with 37 compared to 44 in 2016. 

The year also saw openings veer away from the traditional Asia Pacific markets (such as Hong Kong and Singapore) to focus more on core ‘destination’ markets in North America and Europe.  For example, Tag Heuer opened in London and Blancpain in New York in 2017.     

‘Changes in the luxury market mean there may not be the same level of watch brand store openings going forward, but rather a focus on key destination markets,’ said Anthony Selwyn, head of London and international retail at Savills. ‘In particular, those where ‘gaps’ remain could provide opportunities for expansion even in the more developed markets such as London and New York.’

These ‘gaps’ are partly historical, says Savills, for example in that a number of the leading brands are French. However, the greater presence in Paris also reflects the city’s high number of Chinese tourists, which has made it an attractive location for brands to develop their own stores.

The firm reports that the greatest increases in total luxury watch store openings in 2017 were North America (19 new stores) and Europe (15 new stores), marking year-on-year increases of 138% and 25% respectively.

‘Geographically, luxury watch store openings appear to be undergoing a shift. In North America watch brands have begun to focus on more emerging markets, with five openings in Toronto and three in Vancouver last year,’ said Marie Hickey, retail research director at Savills. ‘In fact, Toronto was the top city globally for luxury watch store openings in 2017.’