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Luxury watchmakers realize it is time for change

By Wang Kaihao | China Daily | Updated: 2020-04-30 08:14
Some new models presented for the online exhibition "Watches& Wonders" through Tmall.[Photo provided to China Daily]

These are strange days and unusual times. It is fair to say that it is not usual for Chinese consumers to see products valued over a million yuan ($141,100) sold through a livestream broadcast. But then, up until a few months ago, social distancing was a strange concept.

郑州股票配资平台As one of the world's most established trade fairs for high-end luxury watches, the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie, or SIHH, in Geneva, Switzerland, was considered an "exclusive" occasion, only accessible to top-tier retailers, professionals and celebrities.

郑州股票配资平台Its organizer, the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie in Switzerland, claimed what it described as "the biggest change in its history" by inviting the wider public to venues throughout Geneva for the 30th edition of the salon. It was supposed to have been held from Saturday to Wednesday under a new name "Watches & Wonders".

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the inaugural "Watches & Wonders Geneva" was canceled, at least in its physical form, but soon it reached an even wider audience through an online plan B.

郑州股票配资平台FHH cooperated with Tmall, one of China's major online shopping platforms, to launch "exhibitions on cloud" throughout the originally scheduled timeframe of "Watches&Wonders Geneva".

郑州股票配资平台Livestreaming broadcasts and other interactive online shopping channels were used to showcase the wristwatches, involving about 100 new and classic versions from nine major international brands, including Cartier, IWC, Panerai, and Vacheron Constantin.

Net-a-Porter, the British retail website for luxury brands, opened its official store on Tmall last year. It became the stage of this "exhibition", which was also attended by professionals to impart relevant horological knowledge and explain design ideas.

Official statistics of SIHH showed the four-day fair in Geneva last year attracted about 23,000 guests and journalists. By comparison, Saturday's four-hour "exhibition" through a livestreaming broadcast on Tmall attracted over 160,000 viewers.

A 2019 report by Chinese consulting company iResearch showed that 56 percent of high-end wristwatch consumers in China are aged between 26 and 35. Nevertheless, even younger buyers will be intrigued.

"For luxury brands, the market of Gen Z(referring to those born after the mid-1990s) matters hugely," Mike Hu, the managing director of Tmall in charge of fashion and luxury products, said in a press release.

Analysis of data through e-commerce can be a key to future development, he says in the release to the media.

Forty percent of today's Chinese consumers of luxury wristwatches will first refer to online shopping platforms to get information, according to the report of iResearch.

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