Chinese love Swiss watches

February 5th, 2012 - 6:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Feb 5 (IANS) People in China appear to have developed a special craving for Swiss watches, to go by their record sales.

Hong Kong, the No. 1 market for Swiss watches, contributed 410 million Swiss francs (about $447 million), followed by the US with 190 million Swiss francs and the Chinese mainland with 160 million Swiss francs, the Shanghai Daily reported citing the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry.

Watches priced above 3,000 Swiss francs (over $3,270) witnessed a 22 percent rise in exports even though the Swiss franc soared to a record high against the euro in August.

According to the federation, Switzerland’s watch exports are expected to continue double-digit growth this year, with Chinese consumers being the main driving force.

For China’s wealthy, watches have turned one of the most popular luxury purchases.

Consulting firm Bain & Co estimated in December that sale of watches in China may have soared 40 percent last year, the highest growth rate across all luxury product categories due to aggressive brand marketing.

The top five brands accounted for nearly 60 percent of the total 22.5 billion yuan ($3.5 billion) in sales in 2010.

But of the total 212 billion yuan in luxury purchases by Chinese consumers last year, up to 60 percent were made overseas, said Bain & Co.

They expected this trend to continue this year, as it found that over half of China’s luxury spending abroad was motivated by lower prices or better product selection.

As per the World Luxury Association, domestic demand for luxury products is being held in check because of import tariffs and consumption taxes, which can turn luxury goods 72 percent more expensive on the Chinese mainland than in France.

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