Watch brands spent almost half a billion dollars on advertising in the U.S in 2013. The total was $492.68 million: a record high, and up 23.3 percent from the 2012 total. That figure comes from Kantar Media, which each year compiles estimates of ad spending for a range of different products. The figures for 2013 signal that the U.S. watch market is still growing, especially as Swiss luxury brands turn their sights back from China to this country.
Last year was the fourth year in a row of growth in U.S. watch advertising. Sixty-nine brands spent more than $1 million on ads, a new record. To reach last year’s top 25, a watch company had to spend $4.66 million. That’s 28 percent more than it took to make the list in 2012. Rolex continued to hold its spot at the top of the list. The brand has been number one since 2000, when it dethroned Timex. Last year, it spent $61.48 million, making it the first brand ever to exceed $60 million. Rolex beat its 2012 record of $52.14 million by 17.9 percent. Stronger than ever in the number-two spot was Breitling, which spent $43.85 million. Although Breitling has been in second place for seven years, its 2013 total was a huge jump: 48.7 percent. It hadn’t broken $30 million before this. (No one but Rolex ever had.) The brand spent more than $33 million on magazine advertising. That was almost as much as Rolex, which spent $36 million.
In third place, Cartier increased its U.S. spending by 22.7 percent to hit $24.58 million. Cartier was number five on the list in 2012, but last year it pushed past Omega and Citizen to its new spot. The full list of watch firms spending more than $1 million is available below. Here’s a sampling of some major points from Kantar Media’s 2013 data:
• Omega spent 1 percent less than in 2012, when the brand made a major media push because of its role as official timekeeper of the London Olympics and golf’s Ryder Cup, which was held in the U.S. It dropped to number four, spending $22.96 million.
• In 2013, all of the top 10 brands spent over $10 million; the year before, only eight brands had spent more than $10 million.
• Breguet spent $9.58 million, an increase of almost 2,000 percent from its 2012 spending of less than half a million dollars. Fellow high-end brand Patek Philippe spent $7.66 million, a 31-percent increase over 2012.
• Three brands were in the top 10 that did not make that list in 2012: Chanel, Longines, and Seiko. Chanel had been in the top 10 in 2011. Last year it spent $17.87 million, about the same as two years earlier.
• Bulova, which spent $2.97 million, fell precipitously to number 41. It had been in the top 10 since 2008. In 2012 it was number six, spending $20.02 million.
• Bell & Ross and Montblanc also left the top 10 in 2013, dipping to numbers 16 and 19, respectively.
• Hublot made a splash last year, returning to the top 25 for the first time since 2010. It spent $7.59 million in 2013, up 218.2 percent from the year before.
• Audemars Piguet, just behind Hublot in the rankings, increased its spending by 665 percent to $7.39 million. The brand spent less than $1 million in 2012.
• Two brands in the top 25 last year weren’t in the U.S. market the year before. One is Tudor, which returned to the U.S. after a 17-year absence. It spent $8.24 million. The other was the new Shinola brand, which spent $4.66 million, enough to place it in 25th place.
• There were many brands in the top 25 that weren’t there in 2012. Chopard, Armitron, Audemars Piguet, Hublot, and Breguet all appeared on the list for the first time in recent history. Like Chanel, Baume & Mercier returned after a one-year absence.
• Leaving the top 25 last year were Casio, David Yurman, Bulgari, Louis Vuitton, Timex, Luminox, Ulysse Nardin, Raymond Weil, and Bulova.
Go to page 2 for the full list of million-dollar watch advertisers.