Watches of Switzerland Continues to Expand Retail in the U.S.

By Published On: June 2, 20225.9 min read

Watches of Switzerland, a British retailer of Swiss watches, has been expanding their retail operations in the U.S. The company owns some of the most well-known luxury watch brands, including Rolex, Cartier, Omega, Tag Heuer and Bulgari.

The Watches of Switzerland Group has over 170 stores across the U.S. and U.K., with over 50 mono-brand boutiques for their watch brands. They also have boutiques in Heathrow Airport in four of its terminals, and host e-commerce sales on seven of their retail websites.

Watches of Switzerland is owned by Aurum Holdings, the largest luxury jewelry company in the U.K. (Aurum also owns Goldsmiths and Mappin & Webb).

Their ultra high-end watch sales range from $10,000 and up, so it makes sense that they want to scale up their footprint in the U.S.

The Rolex showroom sits next to other high-end shops.

Las Vegas Rolex Exterior | Image provided by Battalion PR

Some of their Rolex boutiques have recently increased their presence in commercial areas, whether its casinos or airports. The strategy is to capitalize on spontaneous purchases while traveling.

The Bvlgari storefront is glass, displaying luxury items inside.

Aventura Bvlgari Exterior | Image provided by Battalion PR

The interior of a Bvlgari store s filled with luxury items.

Aventura Bvlgari Interior | Image provided by Battalion PR

“As consumers become more confident economically, their proportionate spend on luxury increases,” said Annette Healey, the Executive Vice President of CBRE’s retail transactions, in a recent study.

“Big luxury brands from Europe are coming to the U.S., and the interest in having a more efficient platform and reaching under-retailed communities is becoming a deep driver for growth,” she said.

Luxury retail is thriving, thanks to affluent consumers in American cities. This trend is especially true in the south, where people are opening new retail opportunities. Brick and mortar stores are still necessary, despite the e-commerce boom.

According to a recent report by PwC, the top ranking markets include Tampa, Austin, Nashville and Durham for luxury retail. “The impact from the pandemic was less than the real estate industry expected at this point last year,” said Byron Carlock Jr., a real estate leader at PwC U.S. “Now the industry should use its good fortune toward both preparations for continued uncertainty and making strides toward ESG improvement.”

The exterior of a rolex store displays luxury goods.

Aventura Rolex Exterior | Image provided by Battalion PR

The interior of a Rolex store is filled with luxury goods.

Aventura Rolex Interior | Image provided by Battalion PR

At Watches of Switzerland, David Hurley has been promoted to lead North American operations. By working alongside London-based CEO Brian Duffy, they aim to grow the U.S. market to the same level as the U.K. market by 2025, the company stated.

They started expanding in the U.S. market in 2017, when they bought the Mayors watch brand and all of their jewelry stores for $108 million.

In Watches of Switzerland’s latest sales report, which closed January 30, they increased sales by 28%. During n the first three quarters of 2021, they made over $900 million in sales. In the U.S., their revenue was up 44% year-over-year.

In terms of commercial real estate, the company purchased stores belonging to the family-owned watch and jewelry retailer, Betteridge, in Greenwich, CT., as well as Vail and Aspen, CO.

In 2021, the company opened more Bulgari boutiques in the U.S. They are also refurbishing and renovating older Mayors boutiques in Aventura, FA.

The Mayors storefront is a display window showing luxury goods inside.

Aventura Mayors Exterior | Image provided by Battalion PR

The interior of a Mayors store is filled with luxury goods.

Aventura Mayors Interior | Image provided by Battalion PR

Recently, they’ve been doing really well in airports. In 2021, the company opened their recent showroom at Gatwick airport in London, inside the North Terminal. Retail director Matt Shields said it was a “further step in our ambition to grow within luxury travel retail, providing excellent marketing visibility to a wide international audience.”

Shields also explained how big purchases (watches over $10,000) can be done on a whim while traveling, something that retailers could take advantage of — spontaneous purchases that are a different experience than ordering a pricey watch online to be delivered to your home.

“The new showroom will further enhance Gatwick Airport’s discerning passenger experience by offering the very best and latest in luxury watches,” he said in a statement. “What better than a luxury gift airside for yourself or a loved one as a reminder of a well-earned holiday or business trip?”

They’re opening their first Bulgari and Tudor mono-brand boutiques that are near their newly refurbished Mayors showrooms in both Aventura and Orlando, FL. They have also opened Breitling locations, one inside the The Mall at Millenia and another at The Mall at Short Hills.

The exterior of a Breitling store displays luxury goods.

Short Hills Breitling Exterior | Image provided by Battalion PR

The interior of a Brietling store is filled with luxury goods.

Short Hills Breitling Exterior | Image provided by Battalion PR

A mayors store exterior displays luxury goods.

Mall of Millenia Mayors Exterior | Image provided by Battalion PR

An interior of a mayors store is filled with luxury goods.

Mall of Millenia Mayors Interior | Image provided by Battalion PR

“We’ve also taken the opportunity to introduce MB&F, Bovet & Chopard corners in our adjacent Watches of Switzerland showroom,” Shields said.

As part of their Long Range Plan, released in July 2021, the Watches of Switzerland Group will continue to expand with renovations and expansions of the jewelry and watch brand Mayors, while expanding their “retail footprint” with Rolex, Tudor and Bulgari boutiques nationwide. The company has seen record growth over the past two years, especially with fine jewelry and bridal categories, which is part of the reason why they’re expanding.

The exterior of a tudor store displays luxury goods.

Mall of Millenia Tudor Exterior | Image provided by Battalion PR

The interior of a tudor store is filled with luxury goods.

Mall of Millenia Tudor Interior | Image provided by Battalion PR

Jumping on the circular economy buzz, which is huge in the fashion world, they’re also opening a location for Analog:Shift, a shop-in-shop (when a brand opens a smaller retail shop within one of their bigger retail shops) selling vintage and pre-owned high-end luxury watches. They’re also opening Breitling boutiques in Nashville, San Jose and Philadelphia.

Watches of Switzerland are doing well in casinos, too, namely the Wynn Esplanade resort in Las Vegas. What makes this retail outlet stand out is that there’s a VIP private consultation area for tailor-made watches. Located next door to the Watches of Switzerland showroom in the Wynn Esplanade is the country’s largest standalone Rolex boutique. The store operates alongside other Wynn Plaza shops, including exclusive boutiques from Omega and Breitling.

It’s what the brand calls “no preference between multi-brand showrooms, mono-brand boutiques or e-commerce,” said David Hurley, Executive Vice President of Watches of Switzerland USA.

“The client ultimately decides and we are investing behind all three areas,” he said.

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