Even in the face of the recent recession the demand for luxury and designer watches has been strong with many watch brands reporting impressive sales figures and excellent growth. Whilst much of the world has suffered harsh economic times there are still plenty of people willing to spend what spare cash they have on a quality timepiece but the market has been in large part supported by China and that is set to change. Luxury watch producers must now seek new pastures and it is not difficult to surmise in what direction they will turn.
China has represented a huge proportion of the potential market for high end watches but with an economic slowdown beginning to bite and the Government cracking down on corruption, sales there may have hit the wall. Many of the watches purchased in China have been bought as gifts, often to act as inducements in business deals.
They have also played a role in money laundering and now, as a result of a rather robust public outcry, the authorities are putting an end to the practices. The luxury watch brands are going to have to look elsewhere to continue their growth. Many are turning their attention to the economic boom in Brazil but the new focus is also likely to be the female market across the world.
Watches for Ladies
Watch producers do not release figures which identify the proportion of watches sold that are ladies styles but experts estimate that timepieces for women make up only 10% – 20% of total sales. This means that there is a vast untapped market out there to be attended to. It is hard to say how much of this phenomena is due to women simply not being as interested in watches as men and how much can be credited to the styling on offer. Many watches for the ladies are simply smaller versions of the men’s styles and overall there is a much narrower choice. The recent release of Omega’s new Ladymatic watches suggests that attention is turning to styles aimed specifically at women.
The collection, which was initially introduced in 2010, was Omega’s first range of mechanical watches for women and the new pieces show an attention to feminine styling which suggests Omega are making a determined effort to target the ladies market. It is likely that other brands will follow suit attempting to develop styles which will have greater appeal to the female customer.
Style and Form
Watches are essentially aspirational pieces. Few people in the developed world need a watch to tell the time due to the proliferation of mobile phones. Watches are desired by men in much the same way as fine jewellery or impressive gadgets but styling is probably all important for women. Perhaps for ladies they can be equated to a designer handbag or a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes. If this is the case then the watches will have to be more about style and form and must be specifically tailored to feminine taste not merely be scaled down versions of men’s pieces.
We are probably going to see a large expansion in the styles on offer specifically for women with the emphasis on beautiful form and exquisite design. Watch producers need to craft the products that will create a demand and they have a huge target audience to aim at. We can confidently expect a new direction in everything from top end Rolex pieces to Tissot ladies watches in the near future and it will be interesting to see if the demand amongst women rises to match that of the men.