NEW DELHI: Rising incomes and a burgeoning middle class have thrown up a new category of affluent young professionals, managers and executives with tremendous purchasing power and this is attracting manufacturers of ultra expensive watches to India.
India's luxury watch market is growing at a robust 25-30 percent every year and big international names like Rado, Omega, Longines, Rolex, Tissot, Christian Dior and many more are already a hit among Indian watch lovers.
Even Indian brands like Timex and Titan that have been traditionally attracting domestic customers have joined the bandwagon and today offer premium and luxury watches under the Xylus and Nebula brands respectively.
Various guesstimates place the size of the Indian luxury watch market - timepieces worth Rs.20,000 and above - at Rs.7.5 billion ($170 million).
Rado's global sales head Peter Kaeser believes customers have enough money to splurge on luxury watches. "We knew the market for luxury watches existed but it is only after careful planning and analysis that we are launching our new collection called Ceramica," Kaeser said.
The range starts at Rs.125,000 and goes up to Rs.300,000.
Swiss brand Tag Heuer, a well-known name for sports chronographs is marketing watches that start at Rs.40,000 and go up to Rs.200,000. They also make watches that cost Rs.25 million, but there are no plans as yet to introduce these in the Indian market.
"We have a set clientele that splurges on our watches," said Nikhil Gadi, showroom manager of the Tag Heuer outlet in South Extension.
Omega, another big brand that caters to the crème de la crème believes there is a niche market for luxury watches, but there is always scope for improvement.
"We have to improve our distribution strategies here by choosing the right malls to display our products and the right sales staff to push sales," Rayland Aeschlimann, vice president of Omega International, maintained.
"We have to be there at the right place at the right time," he said, adding: "Our turnover is not adequate, but we have improved a lot in the past five years and are aiming for more."
According to him, India is neck-and-neck with China and Japan in terms of demand in the Asian region.
One thing that is common to all the international brands is that they have a well-known Bollywood face as their brand ambassadors.
If Omega has actor Abhishek Bachchan, Tag Heuer has Shah Rukh Khan, while Rado has model-turned-actor Lisa Ray.
Why is this so?
"Bollywood has a great influence on everyone. People try to emote to actors in every sense. Brand recognition is very important in brand promotion and known faces give your brand instant recognition," explained Vasant Nangia, Fossil India's country manager.
"A brand has to have a name and face; only then will it sell," he added.
Fossil India is an arm of the US-based Fossil Watches that distributes its own watches as also international brands like Diesel, DKNY, Emporio Armani, Burberry, Adidads and Zodiac.
Though luxury watches cater to high-end clients, many young professionals also aspire for them.
"I believe in quality watches. So even if I were to purchase one watch, I would prefer it to be the best," said IT professional Varun Aurora.
"For me brand does matter," he added.
Omega's Aeschlimann explained the pull.
"With luxury watches, you are making a statement about your emotions and values. There is always a sense of security associated with brands," he said.
6 months ago