It’s time for luxury watches

29-11-2012 |  nrupaldiffion |    Trends

Gone are the days when products with satisfactory quality and affordable price used to take care of Indian customers. With the continuous economic gloom dampening the spirit of customers in the west, a redefined consumerism puts Indian customers on the map. India's watch market is estimated at Rs 4,500 crores and the high-end and luxury time pieces account for about 20 per cent of sales, or Rs 850 crores and the luxury watch brands are all set to exploit the potential of this yet untapped market.


The billboard advertisements and hoardings at T3 terminal of New Delhi airport speak for the efforts major brands are putting in to make space for themselves in one of the fastest growing markets. Starting from increasing the newspaper ads ahead of the festive season, strengthening the distribution network, launching new brands to making way for innovations like solar watches, players in the global watch market such as Raymond Weil, Rolex, Chanel, Omega, TAG Heuer, Seiko, Rado, Longines, Ulysse-Nardin, Hermes etc. are doing all that it takes to reach the tier II and tier III cities.

As Yashovardhan Saboo, the CEO of Ethos Watch Studios, puts it, "The idea is to establish the brand in the minds of people. Creating brand awareness just got better with celebrity launches and events such as the performance of Russian aqua dancers brought to the audience by Omega at the launch of its Sea Master Planet Ocean range apart from conventional marketing tactics like hiring celebrities for the promotion in smaller towns.

Featuring its India Brand Ambassadors Shah Rukh Khan and Karun Chandhok, TAG Heuer holds out the promise to showcase the brand's iconic timepieces, latest collections and limited edition watches launching an exclusive boutique at the Palladium Mall at Lower Parel in Mumbai.

There are many in India who have the money but may not necessarily understand or be exposed to a luxury watch brand. These stars help bridge the gap and get brands the stamp of approval, says Harminder Sahni, founder-MD of retail consultancy Wazir Advisors.

On the launch of exclusive boutique of Raymond Weil in Kolkata followed by one in Mumbai, President and CEO Olivier Bernheim speaks My brand needs to bring about 20 percent of its range new, year after year. So, newness is our key. We will be offering a new boutique this afternoon (July 11, 2012). It's going to open a new range called Jasmine. It is very, very feminine. At the same time we will be offering new watches like Maestro. It is for men. It will be available at accessible price.

Customizing their products to the taste of India, co-sponsoring TV reality shows and advertising in regional publications, these international brands are going out of their way to make it more consumers friendly to own a brand in India and some brands not letting the 30% duty on imported luxury watches affect the market price bears testimony to that. And all these got better with 51% FDI now allowed in retail sector opening the door to many more foreign investors and who knows to 100% FDI in future perhaps. Reportedly CEO of Louis Vuitton, Yves Carcelle has been lobbying for 100% FDI in single brand retail in India. While that remains a question yet to be answered, Indians are sure to stand among the most sought after customers in the global market.

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