Watching Watch Market
Cartier, a byword of luxurious jewelry and wedding watches, is feeling heavy with worry. This is because the luxurious Switzerland-made brand has become the most counterfeited item smuggled into Korea in the first half of this year. Also, it is struggling to position itself as a high-end brand in the rapidly-growing men’s luxury watch market, due to its strong brand image as couple's watches for wedding gifts.
According to luxury industry sources on Sept. 10, Louis Vuitton has turned from a prestige brand into a mass-prestige brand early with overflowing amounts of fake bags. Cartier is also following suit, as its replica watches are recently pouring into the counterfeit market. According to data released by the Korea Customs Service last month, about 26 billion won (US$21.91 million) worth of fake Cartier watches were found to have been brought into Korea without being reported to the customs office in the Jan.-June period of this year. The figure has been steadily growing every year from 3.1 billion won (US$2.61 million) in 2010, and hit its highest value in the first half of this year, being ranked first for the first time. As Cartier took first place in the dishonorable rankings in the watch sector, its brand image suffered a heavy blow due to the fact that true luxury is still based on exclusivity, rarity, and scarcity, said industry sources.
This is the major obstacle for Cartier to hold its place as a high-end watch brand with the great line-up of tens of millions of won. The price of a fake Cartier watch has dropped to some 100,000 won (US$84) in both online markets, such as portal sites and social network services, and offline markets, including Dongdaemun and Itaewon.
In addition, Cartier’s brand image of wedding watches is another negative factor to expand into the men’s watch market. Men are major consumers in the luxury watch industry, and they prefer other prestige brands with masculinity and high functionality over Cartier with a feminine and delicate image.
In this regard, Cartier held a collection event to show 80 watches, including Cartier ID One and ID Two concept watches, at the Shilla Hotel in Seoul from Sept. 4 to 5 in a bid to belatedly capture male VIP customers. The brand is trying hard to change its image and attract male customers by revealing its first concept watches for the first time in the country and promoting the world’s best technology. However, it doesn’t come cheap. Cartier’s high-end watches are priced at some 30 million won (US$25,284) in the Korean market. Its price exceeds that of IWC, Hublot, and Rolex. With such a price, moreover, consumers can purchase even a low-priced line of Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin, the oldest and the best watch brands. Therefore, three is no doubt that they prefer other rival brands over Cartier at the same price.