It’s more difficult to find the $250 MoonSwatch in stores than a $13,000 Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, as demand for the budget-priced timepiece collaboration between Omega and Swatch continues to outstrip supply.
Availability of the ceramic and bio-plastic watch is even “more exclusive than luxury brands such as Breguet, Blancpain or Glashütte Original,” Swatch Group AG, which owns a stable of watch brands at all price points, said Thursday in a statement accompanying its first-half financial results.
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Exclusivity is the hallmark of Swiss independent watch brands such as Rolex, Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe, with customers often forced to endure waiting lists lasting months or even years before they get the call.
Now with the MoonSwatch collaboration, currently sold in just 110 Swatch boutiques around the world and with plans for a modest increase in distribution, Swatch has created a similar buzz and new breed of frustrated customer unable to get the watch they want.
“The stores are experiencing an incredible run of customers of all age categories and origins. Demand, which is increasing daily in the markets, currently far exceeds available product. Shortly after delivery, these products are already sold out,” Swatch said.
The MoonSwatch borrows key design elements from the Omega Speedmaster and caused a global retail sensation when it was unveiled in March.
The collaboration has also boosted sales of the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch, which costs about $7,000 and is lionized for being the first watch worn on the moon. It has 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.
Swatch said Omega has been dealing with “supply shortages of the Speedmaster Moonwatch after a soaring increase in demand.”
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.
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 also said that 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.
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.