x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Good times at Bovet as Middle East sales tick up

Bovet, the luxury Swiss watchmaker whose timepieces sell for up to $2.5 million, says sales in the Middle East have doubled in the past year.

A Bovet timepiece decorated with precious stones can cost as much $2.5 million.
A Bovet timepiece decorated with precious stones can cost as much $2.5 million.

Bovet, the luxury Swiss watchmaker whose timepieces sell for up to US$2.5 million (Dh9.1m), says sales in the Middle East have doubled in the past year.

Its overall global sales have increased by 47 per cent this year, following a 25.8 per cent decline last year because of the global economic downturn.

"In the Middle East, we have doubled our turnover," said Pascal Raffy, the chairman of Bovet.

"Every year it's growing [in the Middle East]. The awareness is increasing every year."

Data from Euromonitor International shows a continued growth in luxury spending in the region across a variety of products this year.

Sales in the watches and jewellery sectors in the UAE rose to $548m this year compared with $509.2m last year.

The Middle East accounts for up 20 per cent of the company's world sales.

Typically, Bovet's handmade watches cost from 15,000 Swiss francs (Dh57,179) to more than 1m Swiss francs.

At the top end of the range, however, is a timepiece set with diamonds worth $2.5m, Mr Raffy said.

The company makes only 2,000 watches a year, 60 per cent of which are bespoke.

"In the way we manufacture our timepieces, we cannot make 10,000 a year," said Mr Raffy.

"I am not interested in doing 10,000 timepieces a year. Why? Because the community of collectors needs to be respected through timepieces of which the price has to be justified," he said.

The purpose, he said, was to preserve the "haute couture" nature of the brand.

Among the company's collection is a watch featuring a miniature, hand-painted picture encircled by diamonds of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, which is worth 90,000 Swiss francs.

"I never decrease my prices because when you hand-make your timepieces you have a cost of goods which is very high," said Mr Raffy.

Bovet was founded in London in the early 19th century by Edouard Bovet to make watches exclusively for the Chinese market, for what was the equivalent of about $1m today.

Mr Raffy said the vast population of China meant it was no longer a viable market for the limited number of watches it created.

rbundhun@thenational.ae