Tmall to the Rescue for Luxury Timepieces

    As China becomes the largest market for Swiss watches, Tmall offers a lifeline to brands looking to tap this appetite for hard luxury.
    As China becomes the largest market for Swiss watches, Tmall offers a lifeline to brands looking to tap this appetite for hard luxury. Photo: Courtesy of Jaeger-LeCoultre
      Published   in Hard Luxury

    What happened

    Tick tock. Luxury timepieces are having their moment in China. On April 14, Watches and Wonders kicked off its five-day, invitation-only event in Shanghai, following the online presentation of its Geneva edition last week. A total of 19 brands are in attendance – almost twice as many as last year – including Cartier, Rolex, and Piaget.

    In addition to hosting offline activities, Watches and Wonders is also turning to Tmall for a Super Brand Day campaign, an unprecedented collaboration that will feature 11 leading Swiss watch brands. Mega-KOL Austin Li was also tapped for a three-hour livestream on April 15, which attracted 7 million viewers on Weibo.

    The Jing Take

    It’s no wonder that China hosts some of the world’s largest watch conventions. Just take a look at the stats: in 2020, 2.6 billion worth of Swiss watches were sold in the Mainland, up 20 percent year over year, surpassing Hong Kong and the US. The region has now become the largest market for Swiss watches, accounting for nearly one-fourth of global exports.

    And catering to this voracious appetite is Tmall Luxury Pavilion. The e-commerce site saw high-end watches surge by more than 200 percent in sales last year and rank among the top-selling categories during the Spring Festival and International Women’s Day. With the pandemic accelerating the need for digitalization and expansion in China, Tmall has offered brands a lifeline, helping them reach first time luxury buyers and consumers in lower-tier cities who have shown a strong interest in this segment. The e-commerce platform offers additional digital services like AR try-ons and 3D store displays that appeal to these consumers.

    Already, Richemont, LVMH, Swatch as well as independent brands like Chopard and Breitling have staked their claim on the platform. And with Alibaba recently announcing that it is easing Tmall’s store-opening policies to lower merchant costs, the time is now for brands to tap China’s love for hard luxury.

    The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.

    Discover more
    Daily BriefAnalysis, news, and insights delivered to your inbox.