Hong Kong survey finds 72% think watch sales will flatline or fall in the coming year

The 35th edition of the Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair welcomed more than 20,000 buyers last week, up 2.45 over the previous year, the organiser said.

An Hong Kong Trade and Development Council survey of 834 buyers and exhibitors found that 58% of respondents anticipate overall sales to remain unchanged in 2017, while 28% anticipate an increase and 14% expect a decrease.

As for retail prices, 65% of the respondents anticipate they will remain unchanged. Most of the responding industry players believe that the markets with growth prospects in the next two years are North America and Western Europe among the traditional markets, and the Chinese mainland and Middle East for emerging markets.

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For product and market trends, the respondents think that the most popular product category in the coming year will be smartwatch (31%), digital analogue (26%) and automatic watches (15%), while the product category with the most growth potential are fashion watches (44%), casual watches (39%) and smart watches (38%).

On product development strategies, watches interactable with smart devices (54%), collections that align with seasonal fashion trends (39%) and wearable technology with time functions (24%) will be the most prevalent in 2017.

The fair saw growth in buyer numbers from Asian markets such as India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand, while growth from other regions including Australia, Sweden, Russia, Canada, the USA and Iran was also recorded.

Challenging market conditions for luxury watches in the region led to a shift in emphasis for some parts of the exhibition, including the addition of a new OEM zone for smartwatches.

“Amidst the economic downturn, demand for luxury watches and clocks remains weak. We can see that the industry is shifting from traditional luxury brands to more mid-market brands, independent brands and even new smart watches in the market,” said Hong Kong Trade and Development Council deputy executive director Benjamin Chau. “Since the smart and light-smart watch market is booming, more and more traditional watch companies are seeking to gain a share in the sector. I believe more varieties will be introduced into the market and offer more choices to buyers.”

Traditional Swiss watchmakers remained the star attraction, but watch brands and buyers congregated in Hong Kong from all over the world.

Olivier Chlous, world sales manager of the Monaco exhibitor, Ciribelli, joined the fair for the first time. He said that, as the Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair attracts a lot of buyers from all over the world, it provides an ideal platform for promotion. He believes that since consumers on the mainland appreciate high-quality watches, the mainland is a niche market for them to develop. During the fair, they had met with potential distributors from the mainland, Iran and Japan.


A first-time trade buyer, Alfred Gleiberman, brand development director of US company Sterling Time LLC, said that he had met with potential suppliers and planned to source brand products to expand the market. He expects to place orders of US$100,000.

Senthil Kumar.N, manager – procurement of Rivoli Group LLC from United Arab Emirates, said that sporty watches and fashion watches were selling well in GCC (Gulf Cooperation Countries) countries and each consumer had at least two to three watches to match clothing outfits. He visits the Watch & Clock Fair every year to look for new buyers and new brands, as it helps him monitor the industry and keep abreast of the latest technologies and design trends. He found three new suppliers at the fair and planned to place an order worth US$60,000-US$75,000.





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