Depending on where you source your information and who you speak to, the Swiss watch industry is either on its knees, or successfully fighting back, so are millennials the answer to the Swiss watch industries woes?
What The Papers Say
According to reports the Swiss watch industry is weathering the storm but only with the forward thinking of some big players. In a recent Hodinkee article the latest manifestation of the Swiss watch industry reacting to the ongoing slump, saw the luxury watchmaker Vacheron Constantin selling a limited edition Cornes de Vache 1955, one of 36 pieces, online via the enthusiast’s website and online shop, Hodinkee.com, for $45,000.
This limited edition for the online market was a toned down version constructed using stainless steel and sold slightly cheaper than the standard version, and not surprisingly the watch sold out, although serious buyers can add their names to the waiting list if they wish.
A sign of things to come, or and experiment doomed to fade into the background? According the Vincent Brun, Vacheron Constantin s` North American president, it was more an exercise in product awareness in an attempt to reach a younger marketplace, “We wanted to make this digital step in order to increase brand exposure in the world and reach out to watch lovers we did not necessarily speak to until now”.
If the market is in such dire straits, one likened to the “Quartz crisis” of the 1970s, one could be forgiven for thinking this is a small step and possibly one that has come too late. However, there are other signs of buoyancy in the marketplace albeit from Asia, in particular, Korea. The sales of luxury high-end watches have been increasing steadily year on year, jumping by 16.3 percent in 2014, 30.1 percent in 2015, and by 34.1 percent in 2016.
Good News For Vincent Brun
Interestingly, Vincent Brun should be cheered by the news that the increase sales in Asia has been driven by 30 somethings interested in fashion and groom, and one can easily extrapolate online shopping will be high on their list of interests. Korean information portal Korea Bizwire reporting on Korean business and culture, recently noted Watches were becoming increasingly popular among young male South Korean consumers. The report cited that 2016 saw roughly 70 percent of all watches sold were to men, 60 percent of those sales being luxury watches.
Illustrating this, Hyundai Department Store hosted a Luxury Watch Fair at its Apgujeong outlet this February featuring products from 18 brands including Audemars Piguet Millenary Minute Repeater and Breguet Marine, with a total value of 60 billion Korean won ($52.2 million).
Certainly, you can be forgiven for insisting these sales are being made in bricks and mortar establishments, but as the distinction between retail and e-commerce blur, it`s clear that the younger online generation will be the new expert consumers of tomorrow, so the typically conservative creature that is the luxury watch business may have to take a deep breath, and dive in at the deep end of online commerce if they are going to survive and prosper.
The opportunities are there for the luxury watch makers to take advantage of. There are already many discount watch stores online like Worldofwatches.com, Ashford.com, Princetonwatches.com, Jomashop.com, and they are already selling their pieces so it’s just a small step to join the massive and ever-expanding online marketplace. Perhaps the answer is meeting the discount watch stores on the battlefield?
Can you imagine how easy this would become to understand the best place to buy watches online? What if all you needed to do is go directly to your favorite brands’ website and pick up your online discount direct from the watchmaker?
For further information on the available discount watch stores that DWS recommends read my watch store reviews.
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