Geneva and Basel, Switzerland—The Mecca for watches, BaselWorld, opened today and is expected to draw more than 100,000 attendees during the week-long luxurygoods event.
The mood is usually upbeat in the halls where major watch and jewelry brand spend millions on stands that rival the best shopping avenues in the world. This year, there are plenty of good reasons to be upbeat—not the least of which is strong sales around the globe.
China Is Not Dead
While luxury marketers worried last year when the Chinese government instituted an austerity plan to quash the growing habit of using watches and other luxurygoods as “gifts” (read: bribes), any resulting slowdown wasn’t as bad as first believed.
According to the Digital Luxury Group’s 10th annual WorldWatchReport released Wednesday, global consumer demand for luxury watches grew 5.7% in 2013.
Fueling that demand were increased among the typical suspects: BRIC countries such as China (+59.4%), Russia (+20.4%) and India (+12.0%). That compared to established, mature markets that had single digit declines: Germany (-9.2%), United States (-7.9%), and Japan (-5.5%). However, United Kingdom (up 3.1%) and Italy (up 8.8%) seemed to emerge from recession doldrums.
Davide Sadigh, founder/ceo at Digital Luxury Group (DLG), noted: “Our outlook for the Swiss luxury watch industry remains strong. Consumers from around the world are more and more falling in love with fine watches, especially women. The segment currently represents the largest untapped opportunity, both in Asia and the Americas.”
The Chinese luxury market is not dead: Interest in all luxury watch categories continues to escalate, led by Omega, Cartier and Rolex. Chinese thirst for luxury watches is not showing any signs of slowdown, according to data shared for the first time by Baidu, China’s leading search engine, for DLG. According to Baidu Vice President Liang Zeng, “Watches are part of the fastest growing luxury segments in China right now.”
Women’s watches continue to rise in popularity (+7.5%) led by China and Swatch Group brands. The United States accounts for more than one quarter of all demand in women’s watches but the category is booming in China, with an increase of +145.5% versus the previous year.
According to the report, brands benefiting from the highest year-to-year growth are: Omega (+88.3%), Vacheron Constantin (+66.2%) and Chopard (+18.9%). The segment however, remains dominated by far by Rolex, accounting for more than one quarter of all interest (26.5%).
Watch aficionados are using social media more than ever. Instagram is the most popular with nearly three times Facebook’s average engagement rate, while in China searches for haute horlogerie brands using mobile phones increased by +120%, according to data by Baidu.
Among the 3 million luxury watch fans, Audemars Piguet generated the highest engagement with an average of 5.7% while Hublot led with the highest number of fans (117K by the end of 2013).
About the WorldWatchReport
Celebrating 10 years since its first edition, the WorldWatchReport measures and benchmarks 62 leadings indicators to analyze the performance of 60+ luxury watch brands across 20 international markets. The report identifies and analyzes more than 1 billion watch-related search queries typed into major global search engines and translates them into the client preferences driving the industry. It has been published since 2004 by Digital Luxury Group in partnership with Europa Star and the gracious support of the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie. www.worldwatchreport.com