It’s been an exciting year so far in the luxury watch industry, with predictions for strong growth tempered by current events like the luxury gift ad ban in China. Today we’re zooming in on the Gulf region to discuss the state of the market there in 2013.
The Swiss watchmaking industry took a hit when the global economy dipped into recession, with sales in the Gulf Region contracting significantly. However, it looks like the industry is bouncing back to pre-2008 levels. Gulf Business recently spoke to Maxime Ferté, the regional director for IWC Schaffhausen in the Middle East, North Africa, Turkey and India, who confirmed; “If you look at the Swiss Exportation figures to the Middle East, you will see that the figures are above those of 2008. But I would say that this is not because the market was or was not affected by the crisis, but rather more because countries of the Middle East have continued to grow and develop themselves since 2008, starting with Dubai. You can find the same phenomenon in other strong emerging regions like Asia and South America, with China and Brazil being their main actor.”
Meanwhile Yassin Tag, the brand manager for Vacheron Constantin in the Middle East and on the Sub-Continent, told Gulf Business that the resource-rich economies of the region simply bounced back more quickly. “Despite regional political unrest, the Middle East watch market saw a steady and regular double digit growth again last year. The market is as confident now as before the financial crash, however, less extravagant and more cautious.”
As a result, Swiss manufactures looking for stable markets in which to grow market presence are looking to the Gulf region. The shift in focus away from the increasingly turbulent Chinese market was evident at the 2013 Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie in Geneva, Switzerland. Ferté says, “There is definitely a lot of potential in terms of growth since the region is only starting to invest in its infrastructure. Dubai is the leader thanks to its mega malls. Abu Dhabi is in its wake, with the development of Etihad, Sowwah Square and Yas Island, while Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are just at the beginning of their plans. We will witness incredible changes in the future, and the luxury industry will be at the heart of all the projects. We just need to get ready for it.”
In addition to opening new boutiques in Gulf cities, Swiss manufactures are looking to capitalize on this potential with watch models designed specifically for this market. “Middle East watch customers are big fans of ultra-exclusive timepieces such as limited editions and bespoke watches. It is true that they tend to like larger models, high complications and audacious designs,” Tag added.
Pictured above are Maxime Ferte, IWC Middle East Regional Director; IWC Saudi Ambassador His Royal Highness Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki AlFaisal AlSaud and Georges Kern, CEO IWC. Photo courtesy IWC Schaffhausen. Source courtesy Gulf Business.