Swiss Watch Manufacturers Or Another ‘made In China’

Chinese consumers like Swiss watches. In their eyes, this is a symbol of success. Nonetheless, a question has plagued Swiss watchmakers: Should we add special series to conquer this market, or wait for their tastes to adapt to European trends?

     The watchmaker of the Swiss Hublot brand is manually installing a watch hand specially designed for the Chinese market. The thickness of this watch is only 2.9 mm. Hublot sales representatives believe that the Chinese are fond of traditional classic watches, so they would like this ‘light and delicate’ watch. According to the Swiss Watch Association, the Chinese market accounted for 7.8% of Swiss watch exports this year.
     Hublot President Jean-Claude Biver said, ‘My 32-year-old son has been in China for ten years, and he has begun to feel the’ trend ‘in China. According to Jean-Claude Biver, this’ marketing ‘is essential : Swiss watchmakers must adapt to the Chinese consumer market. For example, a watch specially designed for the Chinese market is decorated with jade.
     Others use Chinese cultural elements in limited-edition versions. Vacheron Con-stantin also recently launched a series called ‘Legend of the Chinese Zodiac’ series, starting with the Year of the Snake. The Swatch Group’s Jaquet Droz brand claims to be the first foreign watch brand to enter the Forbidden City in China in the 18th century. The brand has just launched two limited-edition collections, each decorated with cloisonne dragon and tiger motifs, which is a traditional Chinese technology.
     However, the taste of Chinese consumers has also changed dramatically. Hublot’s president said, “It does n’t need to be too specific to Chinese consumers, because once they change, you ca n’t keep up with them.” The brand launches more than 100 products every year, and only 2 to 3 products are specifically targeted at the Chinese market.
Paterry Philippe brand president Thierry Stern also believes that ‘too much focus on the Chinese market can be very dangerous.’
     And this region also faces difficulties in the global economic crisis. As a result, the import of Swiss watches in the Asian market fell sharply in September, especially Hong Kong, China and Singapore. According to Jean-Claude Biver, this is a ‘natural reduction’, in addition to ‘stops’ related to recent elections, ‘a lot of extremely expensive watches are bought as gifts’. Blancpain brand president Marc Hayek believes that future sales will also depend on Chinese tourists. According to Swiss media estimates, every Chinese tourist visiting Lucerne will spend an average of 1,657 euros on Swiss watches.