Chinese Whispers: A Daigou Arrested for Smuggling $400,000 Patek Philippe Watch, and More

In “Chinese Whispers,” we share the biggest news stories about the luxury industry in China that have yet to make it into the English language.

In this week’s edition, we discuss:

  • China’s Shenzhen Customs arrests a Chinese daigou carrying a Patek Philippe watch
  • Hermès to host an art exhibition in Shanghai
  • to close down its luxury portal TopLife

1. China’s Shenzhen Customs arrests a daigou carrying a Patek Philippe watch – JRJ

On July 9, China’s Shenzhen customs officials announced that they arrested a Chinese passenger a week ago for attempting to smuggle a Patek Philippe Minute Repeater watch (ref. 5078), which is valued at roughly $400,000 (2.75 million RMB), into China. To avoid paying customs tax, the passenger wore the watch when passing through customs, but the empty watch box was discovered in his suitcase.

The case garnered tons of discussion about the government crackdown on Chinese daigou (a.k.a. overseas purchasing agents) on the social media platform Weibo. Some netizens estimated that this passenger would likely have to pay a fine of up to $200,000 (1.37 million RMB), according to the latest regulations. Some media outlets in China like China Daily reported that the passenger could face as much as a 10-year prison sentence.

2. Hermès collaborates with a Chinese artist for a summer exhibition  – Fashion Network

French luxury powerhouse Hermès will open an art exhibition by the Chinese artist Yan Xiaojing at the brand’s flagship Shanghai store Hermès Home on July 12 that will run until August 4. The installation will blend Eastern and Western perspectives within an immersive experience for the store’s Chinese shoppers.

3. China’s second-largest e-commerce platform to close down its luxury business  – Jiemian

China’s second-biggest e-commerce company will shut down its dedicated luxury portal, TopLife, which it launched nearly two years ago, on July 21. The platform was acquired in its entirety by Farfetch’s China entity back in February of this year. TopLife has sent out push notifications to users regarding the closure and worked on directing them to Farfetch’s website and app.