Women’s Watches Are Ticking Up Again, After a Three-Year Lag in the US, NPD Says

Stronger sales posted in nearly all price bands, from January through May 2018 

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y., August 6, 2018 – After three years of flagging sales in the United States, the women’s watch segment is again on the rise, in part due to a concerted effort by leading watch makers to focus attention and marketing dollars on the women’s market. Women’s watch sales grew 2 percent, year over year, between January and May 2018, rising to nearly 7 million units, according to global information provider The NPD Group.

Strong Valentine’s Day and Mothers’ Day holiday watch sales were primary contributors to the sales increase, with especially strong performance in January and April during the run-up to those holidays.  New models introduced in 2018 comprised about 7 percent of total women’s watch sales, with Rolex and Michael Kors leading the competition, in terms of sales of new models. 

“While we have been tracking the growing trend of women buying men's sized watches for some time, sales of smaller watches for women also skyrocketed this year,” said Reginald Brack, luxury and watch industry analyst for NPD. “Some brands with a traditionally male focus are now hiring female celebrities to be brand ambassadors in their advertising, with TAG Heuer going so far as to dub 2018 it’s ‘year of the woman.’  These and other efforts by watch makers are working to focus women’s attention on some traditionally male-centered brands." 

Rising sales across most popular price bands

Sales of watches priced under $300 declined six percent in January through May, 2018, just as Michael Kors – the leading brand within this price segment – fueled its investment in the smart-watch category by pricing them at $350 and higher. Due in part to this strategic shift, the $300-to-$1,499 price segment garnered the majority of sales in the women’s watch category, growing 2 percent in January through May 2018. Much of this increase was due to the rising popularity of smart watches, as sales of traditional women’s watches declined nearly 4 percent in this price band.

Sales of high-end watches also bolstered the overall growth in the women’s watch category in January through May 2018. Women’s watches selling for $10,000 to $25,000 rose 17 percent over the previous year, while sales of watches selling for $25,000 and more grew 16 percent. “Rolex and Patek Philippe drove most of the sales increase within the highest price segments,” Brack said. “However, Audemars Piguet and Piaget also contributed to the women’s watch resurgence at the high end of the market.”

Information in this press release comes from NPD’s Retail Tracking Service, which provides point-of-sale (POS) information and insight for the watch industry in the United States. This service analyzes brand-, item-, subcategory-, and attribute-level information of watches across the total market and all individual channels, including jewelry chain, independent, and department store and national chains.

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