Morgan Stanley says these watch brands have the highest average prices Morgan Stanley says these watch brands have the highest average prices

Morgan Stanley says these watch brands have the highest average prices

Jamie Weiss

If you’re into watches as much as I am, you’ve no doubt seen the recent Morgan Stanley and LuxeConsult report into the Swiss watch industry’s top 50 companies for 2023. There were a few surprises: for instance, Swatch has cracked the top 20 for the first time off the back of strong MoonSwatch and Scuba Fifty Fathoms sales, while at the same time, Blancpain dropped out of the top 20, despite the Scuba Fifty Fathoms and their 70th anniversary Fifty Fathoms celebrations in 2023.

However, the top 7 brands haven’t changed position since last year’s report, and Rolex is, unsurprisingly, king of the hill – by a significant margin. It also reveals that Rolex sells well over 1.2 million watches a year, meaning that they’re only hard to get because they’re so popular. Go figure.

2023 morgan stanley swiss watch industry report
Image courtesy of Morgan Stanley

But here’s the thing: everyone’s obsessed with each brand’s position in the top 20 as well as their production figures, but I’d argue that the most interesting stat is the average price per watch for some of these brands. Case in point: I’m not surprised that Swatch did well in 2023 as they sold almost 6 million watches last year – I’m more curious about the brands that didn’t have to sell that many watches in order to crack the top 50.

So, without further ado, here’s the list of the most expensive watch brands Switzerland has to offer: a factor of how much money a brand makes divided by the number of watches they’ve sold to come up with an average Swiss franc figure per watch. You’ll find it’s a very different top 10…

#10: H. Moser & Cie – CHF 36,934

h moser cie streamliner centre seconds smoked salmon fume dial

First up we have independent darling and enfant terrible of the Swiss watch industry, H. Moser & Cie. Moser only made 3,500 watches in 2023, but that was still enough for it to be ranked 38th in the industry in Morgan Stanley’s report. Moser starts at around CHF 12,000 for its Pioneer models and goes up to over CHF 444,000 for gemset Endeavour Tourbillon models.

#9: Vacheron Constantin – CHF 38,740

Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Tourbillon platinum

Vacheron Constantin is one of only two Richemont-held brands in the top 10, and while its not as far up the list as fellow Holy Trinity brands Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe, it produces far fewer watches (35,000 a year versus AP’s 51,000 and Patek’s 71,000). Vacheron prices start at CHF 12,700 for the Fifty-Six in steel and go up into the millions, with commissioned Les Cabinotiers pieces theoretically having no upper limit on price.

#8: Patek Philippe – CHF 39,990

Patek Philippe Aquanaut Chronograph Brown e1680669923878

The record for the most expensive watch sold at auction is a Patek Philippe, and fittingly, Patek has a pretty high average retail price per watch at CHF 39,990.  The rectangular Twenty~4 Quartz is around CHF 14,400 while the exalted Grandmaster Chime retails for around CHF 3.4 million. Ooft.

#7: Van Cleef & Arpels – CHF 41,121

Van Cleef Arpels Lady Arpels Planetarium 1

I was surprised to see how high up the list Van Cleef was – which is a mistake I think many (male) watch collectors make. Van Cleef don’t have many conventional men’s pieces but it absolutely kills it when it comes to jewellery pieces. Van Cleef watches start at CHF 7,750 for the Sweet Alhambra in rose gold and go all the way up to CHF 451,000 for the Lady Arpels Ballerine Musicale range.

#6: A. Lange & Söhne – CHF 47,655

Lange 1 1815 Perpetual Calendar 1 e1689302616739

A. Lange & Söhne is often called the German answer to Patek Philippe – yet Lange made less than a tenth of the number of watches Patek made in 2023, and at the same time, has a significantly higher average value per watch. Prices for Lange start at around CHF 13,700 for a white or red gold Saxonia 35mm, with the 1815 Grand Complication topping out the range at over CHF 2.2 million.

#5: Audemars Piguet – CHF 48,456

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak White Ceramic

Audemars Piguet was the best-performing of the Holy Trinity in 2023, with the Royal Oak still remaining as total unobtanium for most mere mortals. (When I was at Watches & Wonders in 2023, I asked the AD at the boutique in Geneva how long the waitlist for a Jumbo was, and he said 17 years. Jesus.) Prices for AP start at CHF 22,800 for the Code 11.59 in stainless steel and rocket up to CHF 1,450,000 for the Code 11.59 Ultra-Complication Universelle RD#4. Considering how divisive the Code 11.59 is, it might surprise some readers that a Code 11.59 represents the most expensive AP currently in production.

#4: F.P. Journe – CHF 78,944

fp journe chronometre bleu wrist

Are we really surprised that F.P. Journe is pretty high on this list? Journe’s controversial quartz Élégante remains the most accessible of his watches, starting at around CHF 13,000 – actually, just a few hours ago, a piece unique Élégante Titalyt 48mm sold for CHF 372,065 (US$420,000) at auction in support of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation – and there are Journe models that are more expensive still.

#3: Jacob & Co. – CHF 84,945

jacob co astronomia four skulls

You don’t have to like Jacob & Co’s watches, but you have to respect their artistry – as well as their astonishing average price. The iconic Five Time Zone, the piece that established Jacob Arabo as a watchmaker, is still the brand’s most affordable option at CHF 5,222, with the Billionaire Timeless Treasure topping the range at a whopping CHF 16 million (should’ve made it cost a billion if it’s called the Billionaire)…

#2: Richard Mille – CHF 275,000

richard mille rm 50 03 tourbillon chronograph mclaren f1 8672 e1676574573694

Richard Mille cracked the top 6 in revenue despite only making 5,600 watches a year: a testament to this brand’s cultural (and literal) capital. Like many of the brands on this list, working out the retail prices of Richard Mille’s is a difficult exercise, but from what I can gather, its entry level is the RM 07-04 which retails for CHF 164,000. Add a zero, and you get the retail price for the RM UP-01 Ferrari, currently the thinnest mechanical watch in the world. At 1.75 mm thick, that’s almost 1,000 francs for every micron of its thickness.

#1: Greubel Forsey – CHF 313,725

greubel forsey gmt sport titanium

Finally, we have Greubel Forsey, who not only produce the smallest number of watches out of any brand in the Morgan Stanley report’s top 50 (only producing 255 watches in 2023, the only brand with three-digit production numbers) but perhaps because of its small production figures, ends up with the highest average price per watch at a whopping CHF 313,725.

Editor’s note: This data has been sourced from the latest Morgan Stanley x LuxeConsult report, with the figures listed as the “implied average retail price per watch (excluding VAT).”