Omega Moonwatch Surges After Cheap Swatch Version Goes Wild
Sales of the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch have doubled in the wake of a wildly successful collaboration with plastic timepiece pioneer Swatch that’s introduced the iconic chronograph to a wider public.
(Bloomberg) -- Sales of the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch have surged in the wake of a wildly successful collaboration with plastic timepiece pioneer Swatch that’s introduced the iconic chronograph to a wider public.
The Speedmaster Moonwatch model, which retails for about $7,000 and is lionized for being the first watch worn on the moon, increased sales in Omega stores by more than 50% since the launch of the $250 MoonSwatch in March, Swatch Group AG CEO Nick Hayek said in an interview at the company’s headquarters in Biel, Switzerland.
Hayek said sales of all Speedmaster models have “risen by double digits,” since the MoonSwatch debuted. The original Moonwatch is a hand-wound model featuring a black dial and hesalite glass, though the brand also sells variants with automatic calibers and ceramic or gold cases, topped off with more expensive sapphire glass.
The MoonSwatch, a quartz-driven timepiece in a ceramic and bio-plastic composite-case, borrows key design elements from the Speedmaster and caused a global retail sensation when it was unveiled in March. Thousands of eager customers thronged stores in the hope of getting hold of the model, which comes in a variety of colors based on celestial bodies of our solar system. The watch quickly sold out, and demand continues to outstrip supply at the 110 Swatch boutiques where the timepiece is currently sold.
Omega is the largest and most important unit within the Swatch stable of brands, which also include high-end manufacturers Breguet and Blancpain, as well as the more affordable Longines range. While the Moonwatch, first worn by Neil Armstrong and his fellow astronauts on their Apollo mission to the moon in 1969, has long been a mainstay of Omega’s offering, the brand remained behind Rolex and dropped below Cartier in the ranking of the biggest watch makers by revenue last year, according to Morgan Stanley estimates.
Hayek has said the MoonSwatch won’t be sold online, but the model will soon appear at more points, including mobile locations in Europe. Swatch will add an additional 25 stores selling the MoonSwatch in July and August, including new locations in Switzerland, Thailand, Malaysia and the U.S.
It will also roll out 11 flexible retail locations during the summer to sell the 11 different MoonSwatch models.
“We will have 11 moving stores, like our planets, moving around Europe,” Hayek said without giving specifics on what the mobile stores will be or where they will go. “We will go to the consumer and where he will be. But not at home and only for a short time.”
The frenzy for the MoonSwatch has revived interest in the Swatch brand, according to Hayek, particularly with younger consumers who didn’t see the marque as the cool provocateur that previous generations may have.
It’s also helped bring new customers to Omega’s luxury-priced models, which include the Seamaster and Constellation family of watches.
“What they did with the Swatch version of the Moonwatch was genius,” Brian Duffy, the chief executive of retailer Watches of Switzerland, said in an interview. “It has undoubtedly positively impacted sales demand.”
Swatch has been pushing to increase production of the MoonSwatch at facilities in Switzerland. The process is largely automated and some plants are running 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Hayek said. He wouldn’t provide specific production numbers for the MoonSwatch, or how many have been sold.
Oliver Mueller, a Swiss-based consultant at Luexconsult in Aubonne, Switzerland, who tracks the watch industry, estimates that about 150,000 MoonSwatch models have been sold since the launch.
(Updates with industry estimate in final paragraph. A previous version of this story was corrected to adjust the increase of sales in the first paragraph.)
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