Saturday, October 6, 2007

Luxury watch shopping in HK

I’m on my way down to Hong Kong right now. I’m going to Taiwan again, so of course I have to stop by HK first. Instead of a quick transfer, I figured I’d go a little early and spend an extra day meeting up with friends and looking for watches. As I’ve mentioned on this blog before, Hong Kong has more luxury watch retailers than any other city in the world. I heard that 15% of all Rolex watches are sold in Hong Kong. The lack of sales tax combined with its central location in Asia with easy access to China, Japan, Korea and the rest of Southeast Asia make for a ripe opportunity.

Coincidentally, as I was waiting in the Dragonair lounge, I picked up a copy of Time Style & Design which features a story on the luxury markets in the emerging markets of China, India and Russia. The data presented is very interesting.


Stereotypes hold true. Russians seem to love to flaunt their wealth with extravagant items like helicopters, bejeweled pencils and gold baby bottles. The best known luxury brands are flashy designer labels like Versace, Armani, Dolce & Gabana, and Dior. They want to be smelled as well as seen; “75% of affluent Russians bought one or two new fragrances in the past six months.”


The country continues to take one step towards the west while remaining distinctively Indian. The three best-known luxury brands in India are all from India: Park Avenue, Allen Solly, Reid & Taylor. It’s just another example of India’s insular nature (especially in regards to consumer goods and retail.) Less than 10% of Indians know of Marc Jacobs or Yves Saint Laurent.


The middle kingdom is already the battleground for luxury brands. China is projected to surpass the US to become the world’s second largest consumer of luxury goods behind Japan by 2015. Chinese preferences tend to be more understated (relative to Russia, not necessarily the US.) The best known brands are Rolex, Lacoste, and Chanel. According to the article, “22% of affluent consumers in China own a (real) Rolex.”

Well, count me in. While Rolex is a little flashy for me, I too want to be able to wear a watch that is hand crafted and assembled in Switzerland. People definitely look at watches out here, so it would be nice to have something for them to notice.

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