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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Big Luxury Watch Brands Attract Big Interest in China

For the second year in a row Omega is the top luxury brand based on Internet searches.

China continues to show strong interest in Swiss luxury watches despite a slowdown in the world’s fastest growing economy, according to a survey of Internet searches released Monday.

The Geneva office of the Digital Luxury Group, a digital consulting and marketing firm for luxury brands, said its analysis of 65 international watch brands shows that every category of luxury watches from “prestige” to “haute horlogerie” has seen an increase in interest the first half of 2012 compared to the same period in 2011, with a near 40 percent increase in aggregate searches.

“This shows that the attention expressed for Swiss watches in China remains strong despite the reported macroeconomic slowdown and the economic uncertainty linked to the political changes,” according to the report released Monday.

“Interest for watches is increasing. This is opposite of what the media is taking about,” added Florent Bondoux, head of Strategy and Intelligence at DLG, in a recent interview prior to the release of the report. He did, however, stress that online interest does not reflect sales.

“We know that this information aggregation in fact does not translate to sell out trends,” he said. “The interest continues to grow, but there are indicators that the purchase cycle (as revealed by the data from the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry) has slowed.”

In March, DLG, in its WorldWatchReport, revealed that for the first time, China surpassed the U.S. as the country exhibiting the highest demand for luxury watches based on Internet searches. 

The WorldWatchReport measured results in five market segments: “high range,” “prestige,” “couture,” “women’s jewelry,” and “haute horlogerie” The largest growth in Internet search interest is in the “prestige” category, according to the survey. In addition, the best known international brands also received the most interest.

Out of the 65 brands analyzed, the top 10 most-searched luxury watch brands (Omega, Rolex, Longines, Cartier, Rado, Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, IWC, Piaget, Chanel) represent nearly 80 percent of the search market, according to the survey.

The trend toward the big names also includes models. The top models searched this year remained unchanged compared to last year’s survey but now account for more than 50 percent of all online watch searches. They are: Omega “De Ville” (19.6%), Omega “Constellation” (13.30%) Cartier “Ballon Bleu” (6.60%), Chanel “J12” (5.9%), and Longines “Master” (5.10%).

After years of growth in the major coastal cities, such as Shanghai and Beijing, interest has grown in the booming and vast interior of the country. Again, the advantage tends to lean toward the big watch brands as they are the ones who are able to invest locally in these communities, according to the survey.

Style (such as “men’s watch” or “classic style”) followed by price are the most important factors in searching for luxury watches, according to the survey. Bondoux said part of this reason is because the Chinese are becoming more sophisticated in luxury goods. It’s also easier for Chinese consumers to search for style as many of the names for models have no Chinese translation.

“Their overall knowledge is increasing,” he said. “We know that gifting is a very important factor in luxury watches. If you are buying for someone you would not necessarily look for the price but search for generic name.”

The report can be downloaded directly at

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