Discounts offered on Rolex watches have been cut to 5 per cent from 12 per cent. Randi Sokoloff / The National
Discounts offered on Rolex watches have been cut to 5 per cent from 12 per cent. Randi Sokoloff / The National

Luxury watchmakers reduce discounts as Swiss franc surges

Retailers of luxury Swiss watches in the UAE have cut discounts instead of raising prices despite a recent surge in the value of the Swiss franc.

Tag Heuer and Rolex have reduced the discount they offer for new purchases.

“We have been told that right now we must reduce the discount we are allowed to give,” said a salesman at the Rolex showroom in The Dubai Mall. “We usually offer up to 12 per cent discount on sales of new watches but we have been told that we can now only offer 5 per cent. We will not be increasing prices for the foreseeable future. All the salespeople in the watch shops are talking about it, no one has put their prices up but we have been told to wait and see.”

Breitling, Omega, Piaget and Raymond Weil have no plans for price increases. Tag Heuer prices in the UAE range from Dh4,400 up to Dh979,000 for the Carrera Mikrotourbillion.

The move by the Swiss National Bank on January 15 to remove the euro cap of 1.20 Swiss francs per euro resulted in the currency jumping by nearly 30 per cent against the euro and 18 per cent against the dollar in the minutes following the decision.

The franc has since given back some of those gains, and through Friday was up 12 per cent against the euro since the rate cap was removed, and 10 per cent against the dollar.

Within days of the move, watchmakers including Patek Philippe and Rolex said they would raise prices between 4 and 8 per cent this month in Japan to offset currency losses.

“There is not much they can do, especially when the currency shock came so suddenly,” said Nikola Kosutic, the research manager at Euromonitor International, a market intelligence firm.

“The best strategy is to cut other costs as much as you can and try to renegotiate contracts with distributors. Some companies might turn to their domestic market but in the case of Swiss watches this is not possible as the domestic market has tiny share in overall sales.”

Mr Kosutic said that some watchmakers might try to push the retail prices up, but it could backfire if consumers turn to other brands. “Different companies will take different approaches but they will all lose, just some more and some less. It is a disaster.”

Meanwhile, figures released by the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry yesterday showed that overall watch exports rose 8.9 per cent last year to 1.01 billion Swiss francs compared with 934.1 million francs a year earlier.

The federation said that overall, watch exports ended last year on a negative note. In December their monthly value was 1.8bn francs, down 2.5 per cent.

It is not just Swiss watches that are bearing the brunt of an expensive franc. Exports of chocolates are also likely to come under pressure from European rivals.

However, some companies have taken the opportunity to open factories in other markets to limit the impact of an appreciating currency.

The chocolate maker Lindt opened a distribution office in Dubai last year, and with its production facilities outside of Switzerland it is able to mitigate against price increases.

“On a local, organic basis, meaning in local currencies, we are able to somewhat compensate the disadvantages of the strong Swiss franc thanks to our 11 production locations outside Switzerland that produce directly for the local markets,” said Sylvia Kalin, the corporate communications director for Lindt. But she added that the company was closely monitoring the currency development “in order to decide appropriate action, if needed”.

Follow The National's Business section on Twitter

Company Profile

Company name: Hoopla
Date started: March 2023
Founder: Jacqueline Perrottet
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 10
Investment stage: Pre-seed
Investment required: $500,000

Company Profile

Company name: myZoi
Started: 2021
Founders: Syed Ali, Christian Buchholz, Shanawaz Rouf, Arsalan Siddiqui, Nabid Hassan
Based: UAE
Number of staff: 37
Investment: Initial undisclosed funding from SC Ventures; second round of funding totalling $14 million from a consortium of SBI, a Japanese VC firm, and SC Venture


Director: Meshal Al Jaser

Starring: Adwa Bader, Yazeed Almajyul, Khalid Bin Shaddad

Rating: 4/5


Engine: 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder

Transmission: Constant Variable (CVT)

Power: 141bhp 

Torque: 250Nm 

Price: Dh64,500

On sale: Now

The Specs

Engine: 1.6-litre 4-cylinder petrol
Power: 118hp
Torque: 149Nm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Price: From Dh61,500
On sale: Now

Tips to avoid getting scammed

1) Beware of cheques presented late on Thursday

2) Visit an RTA centre to change registration only after receiving payment

3) Be aware of people asking to test drive the car alone

4) Try not to close the sale at night

5) Don't be rushed into a sale 

6) Call 901 if you see any suspicious behaviour

Normal People

Sally Rooney, Faber & Faber


July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

Afro salons

For women:
Sisu Hair Salon, Jumeirah 1, Dubai
Boho Salon, Al Barsha South, Dubai
Moonlight, Al Falah Street, Abu Dhabi
For men:
MK Barbershop, Dar Al Wasl Mall, Dubai
Regency Saloon, Al Zahiyah, Abu Dhabi
Uptown Barbershop, Al Nasseriya, Sharjah

The specs: 2018 Chevrolet Trailblazer

Price, base / as tested Dh99,000 / Dh132,000

Engine 3.6L V6

Transmission: Six-speed automatic

Power 275hp @ 6,000rpm

Torque 350Nm @ 3,700rpm

Fuel economy combined 12.2L / 100km


Ambition: To create awareness among young about people with disabilities and make the world a more inclusive place

Job Title: Human resources administrator, Expo 2020 Dubai

First jobs: Co-ordinator with Magrudy Enterprises; HR coordinator at Jumeirah Group

Entrepreneur: Started his own graphic design business

Favourite singer: Avril Lavigne

Favourite travel destination: Germany and Saudi Arabia

Family: Six sisters

Watch live

The National will broadcast live from the IMF on Friday October 13 at 7pm UAE time (3pm GMT) as our Editor-in-Chief Mina Al-Oraibi moderates a panel on how technology can help growth in MENA.

You can find out more here

Company Profile

Name: HyveGeo
Started: 2023
Founders: Abdulaziz bin Redha, Dr Samsurin Welch, Eva Morales and Dr Harjit Singh
Based: Cambridge and Dubai
Number of employees: 8
Industry: Sustainability & Environment
Funding: $200,000 plus undisclosed grant
Investors: Venture capital and government

Most Read
Top Videos