If we look at luxury watches themselves, we can list countless innovations in both technology and materials. Over time, the global watch industry is growing extremely strongly. In this article, we will review some of the important achievements in the luxury watch industry over the past 20 years.

The importance of the global luxury watch industry

Luxury mechanical watches have never been more popular. Sales figures have increased sharply since 2003, cementing the luxury watch market as an extremely important economic sector worldwide. Of course, the leader is Switzerland, which has a workforce of more than 60,000 people in the industry. In 2022, the export value of Swiss watches will reach 22.8 billion USD – a record number. The luxury watch hub is expected to grow further in 2023, as the export value for 2023 reached nearly $15.4 billion in June.

Japan’s forecast for 2023 is also commendable; The country is expecting a global market value of nearly 9.4 billion USD (+4%). Germany, with a projected market share of around USD 1.7 billion (+1.4%), is lagging behind but remains an important segment.

The cultural significance of traditional watchmaking and the passion for innovative timepieces shared by watchmakers and collectors should not be underestimated. The watch industry also has a significant influence on the luxury and lifestyle sector, as evidenced by product placement in movies and the fascination with celebrities and their favorite watches. .

Digital transformation in the luxury watch industry

The watch industry is often considered outdated. Anyone who has visited an established retailer or walked around a watch trade show can agree with this sentiment to some degree. But as with other industries, digital transformation has not spared the watch industry. Regardless, a lot has happened in the past 20 years to adapt to the needs of the digital age.

The steady progress of digitalization has turned new ventures into strong pillars of the industry. For example, many commercial watch blogs and forums appeared. This is where watch enthusiasts can discuss this or that brand in detail… Mainstream blogs like Hodinkee and Fratello even seek to collaborate with manufacturers to create their own models. Surname. This was incomprehensible just a few years ago.

On social media, there are many watch influencers promoting their favorite watches. All of this helps the public increase awareness of luxury watches and increase interest in high-end watches.

The rise of e-commerce has revolutionized the way watches are sold. Most established watch brands have increased their online presence and launched online stores to sell their products directly to consumers around the world. This cuts down on the capital required for retailers and is also a response to the secondary market.

At the same time, it cannot be denied that: There has been a digital transformation in watchmaking technology. Many watch brands have incorporated advanced technical tools such as CAD (computer-aided design) and CAM (computer-aided manufacturing) to develop and produce their watches. Surname. New technologies both optimize production processes and improve accuracy.

Technical innovation

Over the past two decades, the watch industry has made some major technological advances. The way watches are manufactured, operated and used has evolved dramatically in recent years. Manufacturers are also starting to focus on sustainability and resource conservation. Here are some of the most important developments:

Silicon-based mechanical watches: The use of silicon as a material for certain parts in mechanical watches has increased since the 2000s. Silicon is lightweight, anti-magnetic, and resistant to fluctuations. temperature, which improves both precision and durability of movement.
Co-Axial Escapement: Omega’s Co-Axial escapement is protected by patents and has been around since before 2003, but it has only really had a major breakthrough in the last 20 years. With Co-Axial technology, the watch’s escapement wears less, thereby increasing the power reserve and precision of the movement. There is also no need to lubricate individual parts.

Smartwatches: The development of smartwatches by companies like Apple, Samsung and Garmin has changed the industry. Even traditional watch manufacturers have begun incorporating digital features into their watches, one example being TAG Heuer’s Smartwatch Connected line.
Improved and innovative materials: Significant advances have also been made in terms of materials used. For example, ceramics, carbon fiber and other composite materials are now popular in the production of watch cases and their components. Besides the mesmerizing visual effects, watches have become lighter and more durable. One of the leading brands in this field is Richard Mille.
Sustainability in the watch industry

Sustainability has become a buzzword in recent years. When applied to the luxury watch market, sustainability means that manufacturers strive to make their operations and production processes more environmentally friendly, more socially responsible, and more ethical. For example, over the past 20 years, more and more recycled and certified materials have been incorporated into watchmaking. Examples include plastic watch straps made from recycled plastic bottles or fishing nets from ocean cleanups. When it comes to purchasing precious metals and diamonds, many brands such as Chopard and Cartier have paid more attention to the origin of these materials.

Sustainability criteria in the luxury watch market

Environmental impact: See brands that are serious about protecting the environment like IWC, Panerai and Oris do their best to reduce their environmental impact by choosing production processes that conserve resources, minimizing consumption energy and use renewable energy and-friendly materials. Reducing waste and emissions and promoting a circular economy are also important goals.

Ethics and social responsibility: Sustainable watch brands care about social conditions at their production sites and along their supply chains. They are committed to providing fair working conditions, ensuring human rights are respected and combating child and forced labor. In addition, they often participate in social projects in the local community.
Transparency and certification: Sustainable watch brands tend to be transparent about their operations, the sources of materials they use, and their supply chains. They are often awarded certifications and quality seals to support their claims.
The luxury watch industry has evolved a lot in the past 20 years. These decades have been marked by technological advances, digitalization and a growing emphasis on sustainability. Backed by a passionate community of enthusiasts and collectors, the appeal of high-end watches remains strong and there is much for us to look forward to in the future.

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