Feature

A great time for luxury watches

How luxury watch makers are aggressively selling themselves to an indulgent Indian customer base

Do you think the speed, aggression and technique shown by Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa with Ferrari cars mirrors your style? Want to compare notes with the Formula One drivers? You can if you sport a Hublot on your wrist. The Swiss luxury watch maker has arranged for its patrons to meet the Ferrari team at the Indian Grand Prix. “Hublots are often the fifth or even the sixth watch after people have bought more popular brands,” explains Ashok Goel, the brand’s sales consultant in India.

“For such buyers, just owning the brand is not enough. The entire pre and post-owning experience counts.” Hublot’s efforts to ensure its Indian customers get what they want have borne rich dividends. In October 2011, as the official F1 watch maker, it launched a limited edition watch for the first Indian Grand Prix, which had the tricolour on the dial and strap and carried a price tag of $47,000 (Rs.23 lakh). All 200 pieces, including the 35 allotted to India, were snapped up, says Goel proudly. 

Biren Vaidya, MD, Rose groupHublot isn’t the only watch maker that goes out of its way to pamper its customers. Swiss watch maker Parmigiani, for instance, takes special guests, including watch owners from India, for rides in its bright orange hot air balloon in Gstaad, Switzerland.

And Breitling is known for sending hand-made chocolates, monogrammed caps and similar little gifts even several weeks after the purchase. The Indian premium and luxury watch market is ticking furiously with activity. Some of the world’s best known brands are now available in the country — from Tissot, Dior and Omega to Patek Philippe, IWC, Raymond Weil and Rolex — and they’re all working overtime to attract customers and make their presence felt. 

Whether it’s a brand like Rolex that established its India subsidiary in July 2008 after many years of retailing through appointed dealers; Raymond Weil and Omega opening stand-alone stores; Seiko and Rado expanding their distribution reach to smaller cities and towns; Hublot and Tag Heuer offering exclusive Indian editions; or

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