Swiss replica watch exports to UK rise as tourists make most of fall in sterling

— Increase taps into surge of visitors to UK, exploiting what has become the cheapest luxury market in the world, say analysts

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A man looks at expensive watches in a shop window in Bond Street, central London.

Swiss replica watch exports to the UK rose by 13.4% in July as tourists exploited the drop in the value of the pound to snap up luxury goods.

The Federation of the Swiss Replica Watch Industry said watches worth 110.2m Swiss francs (£87m) were exported to the UK last month, the best figures since November 2015.

The figures are the latest sign of a boost for luxury retailers following the EU referendum result, which has pushed down sterling and made British shops more attractive to foreign visitors, with sales of jewellery and watches across the UK growing by more than 16% last month.

Pound against the euro

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The UK is now the cheapest luxury goods market in the world, according to analysts at stockbroker Exane BNP Paribas, which has predicted an uplift for British brands such as Burberry, Mulberry and Stella McCartney, as the stronger euro and dollar against the pound fuel tourist visits.

“Tourist inflows and spend are highly correlated to exchange rates. Continental markets such as France have suffered from relatively higher prices and terror attacks. “The likely consequence is a tourist spend boom in the UK,” said Luca Solca, a luxury goods analyst at Exane BNP Paribas.

The increase in Swiss replica watch exports to the UK compared with July 2015 makes Britain the fastest-growing major market for the sale of brands such as replica Omega, Breitling and Rolex.

Brian Duffy, the chief executive of Aurum, which owns the Goldsmiths, Mappin & Webb and Watches of Switzerland chains, said his outlets had seen an immediate pickup in sales of luxury replica watches (above £500) on the day after the Brexit vote. This was most evident in London and at the group’s airport stores, he said.

In July 2016 Switzerland exported 110.2 million swiss francs worth of watches to the UK

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“It’s very clear there’s a boom going on. We are selling a lot of very high-end pieces where the absolute amount of savings can justify the cost of foreign travel. The savings on a £300 watch can pay for a flight,” he said.

Michael Wainwright, the managing director of Boodles, which sells Patek Philippe replica watches, said the British luxury jeweller had seen good business from Asian and Middle Eastern clients, who usually visit the UK at this time of the year, because the exchange rate had made desired items about 18% cheaper than anywhere else in the eurozone. The pound has fallen by 11% against the euro and dollar since the vote to leave the EU.

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A Breitling replica watch with diamonds. Savings on luxury watches can justify the cost of flights, experts say.

Wainwright said the chain had also recorded a rise in American buyers last month, when Swiss replica watches were as much as 30% cheaper in the UK than in the US.
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“To some extent, it is commodity dealing. Collectors will gravitate to the country offering the lowest price and at the moment that is the UK,” he said.

Jewellery sales were also benefiting from the pound’s decline, although the market was less commoditised, and so differences in design, service and other factors had a bigger role to play than the watch market, where collectors know exactly what they want.

“The weaker pound doesn’t have such an enormous benefit as it does on replica watches, but it will help London, retail and luxury goods,” he said.

Mario Ortelli, a luxury goods analyst at Bernstein, agreed that the UK luxury market was likely to benefit as a whole from the lower value of the pound. “Many tourists will decide to come to the UK, not because they like the weather, but because they think the exchange rate is improving prices,” he said.

But the global market for luxury goods was not likely to benefit overall from strong sales in the UK, he said, as shoppers were merely shifting from one country to another.

However, Ortelli said luxury brands were likely to put up prices to ensure that they protected sales and profits, meaning the boost to the UK may not last. “The benefit will be short term,” he said.

Pound against the dollar

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Jewellers said brands including Patek Philippe and Cartier had already put up prices by between 8% and 10%, although Rolex, Omega and Breitling had yet to change.

Meanwhile, Ryanair said it was carrying 20% more Americans and 10% more Chinese from Europe on shopping trips to the UK this summer, which it attributed to the fall in sterling.

The rise in luxury spending in the UK might help brands with British heritage such as Burberry, which have suffered from falling numbers of Chinese visitors to Europe due to terror fears, and to Hong Kong because of visa changes.

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Replica Patek Philippe 5270 Perpetual Calendar Chronograph Blue Hands-On

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Patek Philippe has been associated with perpetual calendar chronographs for several decades now. Not only was Patek the first to unite both complications in a wristwatch (with the ref. 1518), but the brand even added, in some references, a split-seconds function or a minute repeater to this already prestigious package. At the 2014 Baselworld watch fair, Patek introduced a new color to its “entry-level” perpetual calendar chronograph, a white gold case with a blue dial. We at Monochrome Watches were quite fortunate to get our hands on this Patek Philippe (Ref. 5270).

It’s quite difficult to imagine, but the Patek Philippe 5270 is actually the simplest perpetual calendar chronograph of the collection; keep in mind that the two other references with these complications also feature a split-second (ref. 5204) or a minute repeater (ref. 5208). Clearly, though, the 5270 is not a simple watch. It is the latest edition in a long lineage that began with the reference 1518, the world’s first perpetual calendar chronograph, introduced in the middle of the 1940s. This extremely rare bird was produced for only 13 years, in 281 pieces, and features a movement based on a Valjoux ébauche but highly modified and adorned with the Geneva Seal. A few years later, during the early 1950s, Patek Philippe replica launched the Reference 2499, an improved edition of the perpetual calendar chronograph. Very similar in design, the 3970 and the 5970 came after that, with minor improvements and updated shapes. But in 2011, the 5270 added something very interesting to this classical model: an in-house movement. No more Valjoux or Lemania base here, but instead pure Patek Philippe.

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Make no mistake about this Patek Philippe 5270. Even if it looks very similar to the previous reference, nothing is the same. The design, layout, movement, case, size… everything is new, but remains classical. Patek Philippe chose not to break the codes, but intended to improve and modernize an icon, when it introduced this reference in 2011 with a silver-white dial. Now, in 2014, Patek Philippe has come out with new dials, including the blue one we had the chance to handle for a few hours.

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Before this new reference debuted, Patek Philippe replica would usually power its chronographs with a Lemania-based movement, Caliber 27-70. Even if that ébauche was deeply modified, both on the technical and finishing fronts, Patek at one point decided it couldn’t outsource anymore in an era in which the term “in-house” has gained so much importance. So the brand created a fully home-made movement, developed and manufactured in-house – i.e., a manufacture movement. Patek Philippe Caliber CH 29-535 PS Q is a 32-mm manually wound engine that is impressive not only because of its complications, but also because of the quality of its finishing. As with every modern Patek Philippe replica watch, it is adorned with the Patek Philippe Seal. As we told you recently, the strictest of quality control standards are exerted in the manufacturing of every single component of the watch – the movement, the case, dial, hands, et al. – with rigorous standards applied to form, function, and accuracy.

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A close look allows us to see the polished, beveled angles of the bridges and of the levers; the straight graining of the several elements that compose the chronograph; the polished screw heads and slots; several gold chatons; and Geneva stripes that continue from one bridge to another. The beauty of this movement also comes from its pleasantly deep layout, which permits viewing of all the gears’ and levers’ motions when activating the pushers. Some long-term Patek Philippe’s collectors may prefer the older Lemania’s bridges, but this one is actually very nice, too. The chronograph does (of course) use a column wheel with a vertical clutch for its engagement – the column wheel is, as is usual with fake Patek Philippe, hidden by a protective cap (that you can see on the photo above, in the lower part of the movement). The chronograph itself is very classical, with a bi-compax architecture displaying the measured seconds with a central hand, the minutes in a subdial at 3 o’clock and the running second in a subdial at 9 o’clock. Finally, it comes with the precise Gyromax balance wheel, using a free sprung architecture.

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The movement is not the only interesting element here, and turning the fake watch to the dial side also shows complications. The perpetual calendar components are not visible through the sapphire caseback, as they are positioned on the top of the movement. However, the dial provides lots of information, with a clever and legible display. The day and month are indicated in two windows at 12 o’clock. The date and the moon-phase indicator are displayed in a third sub-dial at 6 o’clock. What is new compared to the previous reference (Ref. 5970) is the way it indicates the leap year and the day/night function. Previously, these two were positioned inside the chronograph’s counters at 3 and 9 o’clock and used hands to point out the information. Not the most practical and legible layout, as it was easy to get confused between the different hands. In the 5270, Patek Philippe has chosen to use two small apertures – at 4:30 for the leap year and at 7:30 for the day/night indicator. The dial gains increased legibility and aesthetic purity from that aesthetic decision.

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Another change (like we said, every aspect has been changed or improved) is in the case, which has a diameter of 41 mm instead of 39 mm. It is slightly bigger, but remains in the classical and reasonable category (consider the Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Chronograph, which is 42 mm, and the A. Lange & Sohne Datograph Up/Down, which is 41 mm). It is made of 18k white gold and comes with an interesting, typically Patek shape – convex bezel, complicated lugs, and rectangular chronograph pushers. The case remains quite thin at 12.4 mm, and positions itself really well on the wrist. The overall appearance of the Patek Philippe 5270 is refined, complicated and elegant. The minor changes to the design give us a cleaner and more modern watch.

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The last of the changes, and also new for 2014, is that blue color combination (both for the dial and the strap). Originally available in white gold with a white/silver dial, it is now possible to have the 5270 in blue, a less classical color and perhaps, therefore, easier to wear with a casual outfit as well. Even if blue is a cold color (especially when paired with a white-gold case), this new edition is, nonetheless, more appealing. The dial is not plain but slightly guillochéd, with a sunburst pattern, and thus gives off really nice reflections (that were unfortunately hard to capture during our photo shoot). The contrast with the white gold hands and applied indexes and the white inscriptions is excellent and allows for very good legibility. Furthermore, the blue remains serious enough for Patek’s lovers but adds an extra attractiveness to a very classical reference.

The Patek Philippe Replica 5270G Perpetual Calendar Chronograph Blue is available in Patek Philippe boutiques, priced at about 135 euros.

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