Making Time: Watchmaking Industry in Uk Over The Years


Watchmaking has been a mark of UK. We can guess that it can be seen in the culture of the people and how strict they are when it comes to punctuality—London even has the Big Ben! It only makes perfect sense why the UK is still the 4th leading producer of the Swiss watch in the world and probably one of the leading markets for retailing and wholesaling of watches.

In 1800, almost half of the world’s watches are made in Britain which averaged around 200,000 pieces of watches a year. As a matter of fact, most of the innovations in modern Swiss watch came from the UK.

In 1900, the sales in the UK have dropped by almost half despite the production of reaching millions. This can be attributed to the reliance of British maker to craftsmen and they’re reluctant to adopt mass production techniques. Mass manufactured watches were soon able to compete directly with hand-made ones, and eventually surpass them in performance despite only costing a fraction of the price. Nonetheless, UK has made its mark in watchmaking business.

In 2015, there have been resurgences in sales of Swiss watches and it seems that UK is once again gaining its ground in the watchmaking industry. UK has pulled away from other previously stronger regions such as Middle East, Singapore, and Russia. The first eleven months of 2015 has stood out from the other European markets with a 19.1% increase, showing strong progress month after month.

However, time surely has changed a lot for the UK watchmaking industry as the year 2017 continue to thread to the direction it has gone through in the last quarter of 2016. What once was a market giant of watchmaking is surprisingly on a long slump and this could be alarming for retail and wholesale industry of watches in UK.

As it was reported by the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry this January 2017, after the huge plummet of sales in March 2016 ‘til Oct 2016, the sales of Swiss watch remains significantly in the red. In fact, they were 6.2% lower with a total value of 1.4 billion francs.

The alarming drop in the value of sales of watches can be attributed to the sales of watches in precious metal. However, the trend in volume terms was still downwards. The month of January proved particularly negative for the other metals category.

According to the same report, the situation of watchmaking industry in other leading countries in watch manufacturing is the same as in UK in the past year. In Hong Kong, the situation has started to ease up after a negative spiral for two years.  United States and China, however, was able to hold out a favorable prospect in the opening of the year.

While this plunge in sales could hurt the retail and wholesale industry in the UK, the international sales trend promises that this not stay the same and will soon make a climb back in the market.


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