Hublot, Timex plan new Asia expansion

22 September 2010

GENEVA/CONNECTICUT: Hublot and Timex are to sell more higher-end watches to affluent consumers in Asia, executives at both companies have confirmed.

The LVMH-owned luxury watchmaker has identified China as a priority growth market, while Timex is to target the Indian middle class by withdrawing its sub-1,000 rupee ($22; €17) watches and concentrating on the "4,000 plus" segment instead.

In India, the overall watch market is growing by around 18% per year.

But Timex data suggest that the 4,000 plus segment has grown by 68% over the past 18 months.

VD Wadhwa, managing director of Timex group, said: "By selling watches cheap, we were only killing the brand.

"Consumers are now looking for multi-functional watches with style, stop watch, chronograph, and dual timing – in simple terms, they want a complete fashion accessory. Once these functions are added, the price of such watches has to be over 4,000 [rupees]."

The firm has launched a new range, Purple, watches from which cost 4,000-10,000 rupees apiece, and also plans to double the number of outlets of its retail chain, Time Factory.

Meanwhile, Hubler ceo Jean-Claude Biver has said that he wants to double the number of stores the firm has in Asia, with the majority of the new outlets to be located in China.

"In Asia, the watch is a status symbol-communicating tool," he added.

"When you have a rich European or American, he might not necessarily buy an expensive watch. You see very wealthy people, more often in America than in Europe, and they have rubbish on their wrist because they just don't care."

Hubler currently generates around 8% of its sales from Asia.

Data sourced from Business Standard/Bloomberg; additional content by Warc staff