The luxury watch market has grown steadily in recent years due to several positive drivers, but also faces a variety of challenges. Luxury watches are available in quartz, chronograph and digital variants. They can be custom-made to cater to men or women, or be unisex.
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The luxury watch market is fragmented as watches are considered a basic requirement and several companies have developed the manufacturing expertise to deliver luxury watches. Product and brand visibility through marketing campaigns, product launches and celebrity endorsements is hence a common phenomenon in the market.
Some of the key players in the luxury watch market include Rolex, Rado, LVMH, Omega, Cartier, Richemont, Audemars Piguet, Swatch Group, Montblanc, Bulgari, Burberry, Louis Moinet, A. Lange & Söhne, Titan, Kering, Bovet Fleurier, Breitling, Avantist, Jaeger LeCoultre, Bernard,Tag Heuer, Compagnie des Montres Longines Francillon, Festina, Fossil Group, Casio, Seiko Watch, Citizen, Patek Philippe, Apple and Chopard.
A key marketing trait in the luxury watch market is that manufacturers have made their brand synonymous with their company, leading to companies having own brands. As a result, India’s Tata Group instituted a separate company for manufacturing their watches, named Titan.
Titan produces watches under its own brand name, as well as the Fasttrack and Sonata brands. Some companies, like Richemont, are however exceptions to this; Richemont produces its luxury watches under the brand name Baume.
Product launches, collections and limited edition watches are a common phenomenon in the market. For example, Rolex, A. Lange & Söhne and Tag Heuer launched their 2019 collection with six, five and four new models respectively; Audemars Piguet’s 2019 collection was named 11:59.
Some popular limited edition luxury watches include the Tag Heuer Indy 500 Chronograph, Bovet 1822, Louis Moinet Singapore Edition, Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph, Panerai Mare Nostrum Acciaio and Avantist Martina Navratilova Wimbledon 1987.
Celebrity endorsements and sponsorship to mega events are another key marketing strategy for manufacturers. Luxury watch makers have usually turned to sports sensations and on-screen personalities for such endorsements
Some such endorsements include Steffi Graf, Andre Agassi and Kate Winslet’s endorsement of Longines; Hugh Jackman and Nicholas Cage’s endorsement of Montblanc; Tiger Woods, Roger Federer and Phil Mickelson’s endorsement of Rolex; David Beckham and John Travolta’s endorsement of Breitling; Nicole Kidman, George Clooney, Daniel Craig and Pierce Brosnan’s endorsement of Omega; Novak Djokovic’s endorsement of Seiko; and Lewis Hamilton, Cristiano Ronaldo, Maria Sharapova, Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio and Uma Thurman’s endorsement of Tag Heuer.
The women’s luxury watches segment has seen tremendous growth in recent years and overtaken the men’s segment. This has led to manufacturers shifting focus to the women’s segment. Consequently, watches with inlaid jewellery and incorporating gold, silver, platinum, etc. have seen a rapid rise.
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Drivers and Challenges for the Luxury Watch Market
Increasing disposable incomes globally have been a big positive for the market as consumers are more willing to spend on luxury watches. Similarly, growth in women’s incomes has spurred the women’s market segment.
However, younger people have shown a preference for lower priced digital watches. Simultaneously, there is also a perception that wrist watches are going out of fashion. A high percentage of counterfeit products in the market are also a challenge.
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