Which Watch Brand Spends the Most on Advertising?

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.

Breitling Chronomat 44 Airborne - front
Breitling broke the $30 million mark in ad dollars in 2013.

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.

Tudor Heritage Chrono Blue
Tudor, which spent $8.24 million in 2013, was not even in the U.S. market the year before.

• 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.

Hublot Big Bang Unico King Gold - front
Hublot returned to the top 25 for the first time since 2010.

Go to page 2 for the full list of million-dollar watch advertisers.

No Responses to “Which Watch Brand Spends the Most on Advertising?”

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  1. $0.5billion,when millions of people have less than $1 a day to survive, in this world.
    digrace. each rolex, 30% of the price is for dvertising, maybe, if not more.buy Pulsar-sieko, true value for money.

  2. MrTissot

    Dear ioancio,

    You make a great point!

    I can truly understand where you are coming from, that is that a true High End Wristwatch Manufacture should not have to depend on bucket loads of advertising and endorsements in order to create awareness and attract attention from the public towards its wristwatches. My guess is the Lower End brands need to do this to entice customers to pull out their wallets out whereas a High End Manufacture can use its reputation via Word Of Mouth a little more than just its advertising.

  3. It’s astonishing the amount of money generated by watch sales internationally as inferred by the amount being spent on advertising. The percentage mark-up on watches must be very high because most people, those with whom I come into contact anyway, don’t have dozens of watches. Most don’t seem to spend large sums on watch purchases either.

    When I lived in the United Arab Emirates I’d walk past the many watch only shops in the malls and see a half million dollars worth of stock, two Indian gentlemen in suits and rarely any customers. Given the rent, wages and other costs of business, I wondered how many watches they’d need to sell each week just to break even.

    Anyone have any idea about the economics?

    • you have to understand how important watch brands see having a presents in high profile locations is.
      Having spent 25 years inside the high end watch industry, I have implemented such vanity projects.

  4. Maryhelen Jones


    Just wanted you to know that I really found the figures you cited from Kantor Media fascinating. I’ve referenced your posting in my blog and gave you/Kantor Media credit for your analysis. I look forward to your July 2015 summary of the 2014 watch brand U.S. advertising expenditures.

  5. Steve

    What all goes into the advertising figures?

    Print and media advertising is a given, but does something like promotion of a sporting event or series, such as Tudor’s sponsoring of the United Sports Car Championship series or Rolex sponsoring the Daytona 24 hour race, get included as advertising?

    The curious want to know.

  6. ioancio alex

    It is pretty much interesting to see who is big and who ain’t. But guys tell me where is Lange und Sohne?
    This is why I thing they are nr one. They do not spend so much on adv. Who knows what is best knows and who doesn’t is left behind. The other thing why I appreciate the germans is because they are not making watches connected to sport events or so on ! Keep going guys! You are number one, alex

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