Rolexes snapped up in Singapore after Swiss franc appreciation

Rolexes flew off the shelves over the weekend after the Swiss franc's surprise appreciation last Thursday sent Singapore's luxury watch enthusiasts on a buying spree before retailers adjust their price tags.

"Our outlets have been doing quite well," said Ms Jannie Chan, executive vice-chairman of luxury watch retailer The Hour Glass.

Buyers first started pouring in last Friday, and since then, shops have been "quite tight" for stocks, since each branch usually carries only one or two of each model, said one Hour Glass salesman.

Rolexes did particularly well, with popular models, such as the GMT and Submariner, selling out in some outlets. Prices are close to $10,000 at the entry level.

Over at the Raffles Hotel branch of The Hour Glass, some 30 Rolexes were sold on Sunday alone, according to one staff member. This far outpaced the sales of other Swiss brands such as Hublot and Patek Philippe, which sold only two to four pieces that same day, said the sales staff.

On any other day, Rolex sales typically taper off at around 10. Rolex declined to comment on when its new stock would come in, or when it planned to raise prices.

It is not uncommon for most watch brands to issue a new price list to retailers without advance notice. In turn, retailers have to reprint their price tags almost overnight.

The Swiss National Bank's decision to remove a cap on its exchange rate against the euro last week was a rude shock to local watchmakers and other exporters. The Swiss franc is now more than 15 per cent stronger against the Singapore dollar than it was last week.

Watch prices are expected to rise as a result of this.

marilee@sph.com.sg