I was reading the statistics by the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry a couple of weeks ago, and it appeared that in 2008, Hong Kong is the top watch buyer of swiss watches with more than CHF1.3 Billion from Jan to June. Although it is not surprising to see that Asian countries are becoming more and more important markets in terms of luxury watches, but to see Hong Kong outpacing even America was indeed a surprise. That drew me back to the latest World Wealth Report 2007 by Merrill Lynch. It seems that for the past couple of years, luxury watches are ranked No. 1 in terms of “investments of passions” among Asians.
Countries such as China, Singapore, India etc are all experiencing record growth in HNWIs, and even among the working professionals, many of them have no qualms about spending 10k on a watch or even a dress. Its no wonder why everyone seems to be flocking there now. However, one of my main worries is that many brands will end up diluting their brand image. For example, there is a prestigious brand and it was deemed as an ultra-luxury brand. However, one of my friends recently told me that in Asia it seems that everyone can afford to buy it as it is producing cheaper models. It seems like luxury is no longer so exclusive after all.
Therefore, it was very encouraging for me to see that there are still many watchmakers out there who are still focusing on the traditional aspects of the industry. Companies that are focused on building a relationship, and not focused on building an empire. I had the chance to meet up with a couple of independent watchmakers, and you could really see the fire in their eyes. Some of them are producing just 15 to 20 watches per year, but they are more focused on giving individual attention to the watches even if they are capable of increasing their output. I just wished that there are more out there with this passion.
Meanwhile, check out some of the independents – Académie Horlogère Des Créateurs Indépendants at this website www.ahci.ch and learn more about the passion.