A while back I wrote about how the Far East is becoming the center of the watch world. In just the last week I have read a couple different articles that have without a doubt confirmed this notion and then some for me. The statistics are actually astounding.
There was an article in Monday’s Wall Street Journal titled, “In China: Year of the Watch.” It explains how watches have become the primary item for luxury spending in China, due to an increasingly wealthy male demographic. The article discusses how many well-established ‘big brands’ have continued their path of prosperity alongside a growing demand for more ‘bespoke’ timepieces.
The Chinese consumer is beginning to have particular requirements and specifications for their watch purchases. The Internet provides so much information concerning watches, that consumers are becoming much more educated. Stephen Urquhart, the president of Omega, is quoted in an iW magazine article titled “The Rise of the East” as saying, “Consumers in China are increasingly sophisticated. With the development of broadcast and digital media, people know and understand watches better than ever before and are keenly aware of fashion and trends.”
Meanwhile, it is clearly evident that the Chinese like what they are seeing. In the first six months of 2010, the import of Swiss watches to China was up 91 percent from the same period in 2009. Excuse me!? I thought our global economy was in disarray? Apparently a strong presence in China is imperative for the survival of many brands.
The Chinese seem to prefer watches with more of a classic design. China’s current leading watch brand is Omega. That being said, Chinese brands are beginning to establish themselves alongside Swiss brands in China. Shanghai Watch has become a favorite of many Chinese collectors after producing the first ever China-made tourbillon watch.
What is crazy is that while sales in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong account for one fourth of the watch sales worldwide, the number of timepieces these consumers purchase outside of their home countries is believed to actually exceed the number bought at home.
Happy New Year to all!