Prices on Swiss luxury watches are falling for a reason no one is talking about

An IWC watch, imported from Switzerland. Photo credit: Hollis Johnson
An IWC watch, imported from Switzerland. Photo credit: Hollis Johnson

Now is probably the best time to buy that Swiss timepiece you’ve been coveting.

That’s a confusing sentence for many, as Switzerland and sale are words not generally related to each other.

But it’s true: prices for imported Swiss timepieces are indeed slipping ever so slightly, according to Michael Clerizo, Wall Street Journal watch columnist.

The reason is pretty simple, even if no one’s really talking about: luxury watch sales are in a downward trajectory. Exports from Switzerland fell in 2015 for the first time since 2009, and are down 11.1% when comparing year over year in April, according to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry.

Most of this depressed demand was caused by a troubled Europe, changing Chinese tastes, low oil prices, and a strong Swiss Franc, Clerizo says. But that translates to good news for North American buyers looking to pick up a watch while watchmaker’s inventories are building up to intolerable levels.

Of course, don’t expect any bargain basement deals. We’re dealing more in the 5-7% discount range, but at the prices these watches retail for ($5,000 and up), that discount can still translate to hundreds of dollars.

Don’t expect prices to go down much further, though. After all, there’s a reason these watches are so expensive, and they must retain their allure as luxury status symbols at least mostly out of the reach of a large segment of consumers.