Review of 2020 from Mappin & Webb

25 February 2021

Mary Collins, Valuations Associate from Mappin & Webb, shares with us her reflections on the gold, diamond and watch industry in 2020.

Pink diamond in tweezers


A year no-one will forget in a hurry! Businesses across the world were challenged to adapt to a constantly changing environment and the Watches of Switzerland Group rose to the challenge and continued trading successfully despite periods of lockdown and disruption to retail.

Price of gold has increased due to the pandemic

The general unrest caused by the pandemic had a very significant impact on the price of gold with a record high in August of £1,574.37 per gram1. However, diamonds have remained steady with less demand keeping the price down.

Argyle Mine closure sees the price of pink diamonds increase

The announcement that the Argyle Mine, the producer of over 90% of the world’s pink diamonds, would cease operations for mining in 20202 caused a stir amongst investors. The mine ceased trading in November and the last polished diamonds should hit the market this year. Consequently, the price of pink diamonds has risen steadily and is forecast to rise further3. If a new mine is discovered in the near future, it would still take approximately 15 years to reach the point of producing diamonds to sell to consumers.

Swiss watch industry weathers the COVID-19 storm in 2020

For decades, the watch industry has been anchored by two major watch fairs – the SIHH in January and then BaselWorld several months later. These fairs announce the product launches for the year.  However, over the last couple of years several brands, notably Breitling and Omega had begun to break away from the established fairs and organise local market events. The advent of COVID-19 accelerated this trend and led to most of the new watches for 2020 being presented to us virtually via Zoom calls etc. General opinion is that 2020 was one of the best years ever for new product – despite everything else that was going on in the world.

Breitling revised one of their iconic lines, the Chronomat which has proved incredibly successful. Also, not known for women’s watches the brand introduced a Chronomat collection for ladies and a 35mm Navitimer. Both collections have been well received, as indeed has their colourful entry priced Endurance collection which is a lifestyle sports watch for £2,450.

Vibrant colours were also evident when Rolex revised the Oyster Perpetual collection, adding Candy Pink, Coral Red, Yellow, Dark Green and Turquoise dials to their entry priced collection. They also updated the Submariner – one of their most sought after watches.

2020 also saw the reintroduction of retired ranges from other great brands. For example, Cartier revived the 1980’s iconic Pasha collection and incorporated an easy switch system allowing the wearer to change between bracelet and strap options with ease. Similarly, TAG Heuer celebrated their 160th Anniversary with limited edition Carrera’s alongside more volume lines from the hugely popular Formula 1 collection.

Overall 2020 was a great year for new product and illustrates the ability of the Swiss watch industry to withstand the shock of a global pandemic, be confident enough to launch its new lines as planned but also quickly adapt to holding virtual product presentations in order to introduce them to the market.

Mappin & Webb

Mappin & Webb is a true British treasure with over 240 years of tradition and historical significance in the world of silver and fine jewellery. Renowned for combining timeless craftsmanship with superior quality and contemporary design, we have produced exquisite fine jewellery, elegant silverware, watches, glassware and the unique lifestyle accessories that have long been at the heart of affluent British society.

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