A sharp increase in people’s interest in Luxury watches is fueling the growth of the Korean luxury watch market. Although the global economic slump has been shrinking the world watch market, luxury watches are selling like hot cakes.
According to the Swiss Watch Industry Association, Switzerland’s watch exports in 2015 added up to 21.8 billion Swiss francs, down 3.3 percent from the previous year. Their sales dropped 23 percent in Hong Kong, the world’s largest watch market, and one to five percent in the US and China, respectively. They slid 1.9 percent in Japan, the fifth largest watch market in the world.
But Swiss watch exports to Korea grew for two consecutive years, 1.88 percent in 2014 and 0.2 percent in 2015. Last year’s luxury watch sales at domestic department stores such as Lotte, Hyundai and Shinsegae swelled 20 to 30 percent year-on-year and rose 30 to 40 percent during the January-February period of this year compared to the same period of last year. Korean purchases accounted for 80 to 90 percent of the sales even though Chinese tourists made purchases of them in Korea.
Swiss watchmakers are watching the Korean watch market as well. Prices of Swiss brand Jaeger-LeCoultre’s watches are eight million to nine million won. On March 11, the company unveiled an ultra-pricey new product whose price tag was about 370 million won and set the Apkujeong Branch of Hyundai Department Store in Seoul, Korea as the first store to sell the luxury watch. Young and middle-class consumers are taking the initiative in the rapid growth of the Korean luxury watch market.
Hyundai Department Store’s analysis of luxury watch buyers found out that luxury watch sales by consumers in their 20s and 30s rose 30.4 percent last year from 23.6 percent in 2012. 90 percent of watch buyers are males, but of late, female buyers are jumping on the wagon.