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Gender fluidity goes mainstream for Swiss watchmakers

Gender neutral watches

A new trend in luxury watches is emerging: non-gender specificity, argues Reginald Brack, Executive Director, Industry Analyst, for NPD Group, an American retail analyst. Historically watches have been labeled “men’s” and “women’s”, but several factors are changing this dynamic, resulting in a merchandising opportunity for retailers, he adds in a blog posting.

Women have been gravitating towards men’s watches, both in size and style. In the second half of 2017 the men’s segment was up 7% in the United States compared to the prior year, and the women’s segment was down 4%. Rolex has been one player in the growth category for men’s, but a decliner in the women’s category.  Women have not stopped buying Rolex, they are now buying the brand’s 36mm and larger pieces, including sport models, generally labeled men’s for Rolex and other brands.

Brands have been embracing gender neutrality: Gucci, Chanel, Tudor, Montblanc, Zenith to name a few.  And, top names in the industry are talking about it…

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“With the Calibre 3, we have fully embraced gender fluidity.”
– Nicolas Beau, Chanel’s global head of watches and fine jewelry business development

“I think today we should not talk about women’s watches, or men’s watches.”
– Julien Tornare, CEO of Zenith

“There are two sizes. I don’t necessarily believe in a woman’s watch and a man’s watch. A Cartier Tank is a Cartier Tank, and you buy it in different sizes. An Hermès Arceau is an Hermès Arceau, and you buy it in different sizes. Maybe it’s a different strap.”
– Tom Ford

Gender-neutral watches also present a value proposition for consumers – couples sharing watches. Brands are designing models now with the end user in mind, with easy change/adjust straps and bracelets, eliminating the need to visit a watchmaker to size the bracelet or change a strap, enabling couples to change back and forth creating a two-for-one value.

Just as fast fashion retailers are promoting inclusivity by avoiding gender stereotypes, luxury brands and retailers will enjoy a more fluid customer experience and ultimately attract a larger customer base by promoting gender neutrality in their merchandising strategy moving forward, and making it easier for the consumer to find the watch they want, in the size they seek.

 

Reginald Brack joined The NPD Group in January 2018 as the watch and luxury industry analyst. Reg has over 20 years of experience in the watch industry. This experience, combined with his entrepreneurial nature and business development skills gives him a comprehensive perspective on the industry and what is necessary to thrive in it.

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Rob Corder

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