Blancpain’s 2011 BaselWorld Collection Debuts At Shin Kong Place
The Swiss luxury watchmaker Blancpain showcased its new collection of automatic wrist watches last week at Beijing’s Shin Kong Place (新光天地) , one of our top 10 luxury malls in the Chinese capital. As Jing Daily has previously noted, Shin Kong Place is one of the more popular shopping malls in Beijing’s CBD shopping district, with a lineup of 90 top-tier international luxury brands and more than 900 well-known brands from around the world. Recently, Shin Kong Place celebrated its fourth anniversary with several luxury launches, from the likes of British fashion house Vivienne Westwood, German jeweler Niessing and Swiss watchmakers Audemars Piguet. With last week’s Blancpain event, it seems that Shin Kong Place is looking to match its frequent fashion fêtes with more timepiece-focused promotions.
Established in 1735, Blancpain is one of the oldest high-end watch manufacturers in the world. At its Shin Kong Place event, the luxury watchmaker showcased its full range of new timepieces, which recently launched at the 2011 BaselWorld Watch and Jewellery Show in Switzerland.
Located on the first floor of Shin Kong Place, the new Blancpain store follows a distinctly European Neo-Classical style, with deep wooden overtones and low-key watch counters giving the location a sense of intimacy and discretion.
Blancpain first cracked the mainland China in 2007, with its first store debuting at Oriental Plaza (东方新天地) — which regular readers may remember ranked first on Jing Daily’s list of Beijing’s top ten most luxurious malls. Over the past four years, with affluent Chinese consumers becoming gradually more brand-savvy and sophisticated, the luxury watchmaker has worked to gain more brand awareness in China via a range of promotions. In October 2008, Blancpain became the only modern Swiss watchmaker to be included in the Watch Museum housed within the Forbidden City in Beijing, then in 2009, the company made a direct overture to the mainland China market with its limited-edition Chinese dragon watch, released to commemorate its two-year China anniversary. In 2010, Blancpain made its way to Shanghai, opening a boutique at the recently re-opened Swatch Art Peace Hotel, where it sits alongside brands like Breguet and Omega.
Blancpain’s efforts in China over the past four years have not been for naught, as the watchmaker has steadily gained a foothold in this important market. (As well as in Hong Kong, where many mainland Chinese travel to take advantage of duty-free shopping.) According to Swiss Watch Makers, Blancpain’s Nanjing West Road boutique in Shanghai was the only authorized service shop to pass a secret survey conducted in the city between March and April of 2009. Additionally, Blancpain brand manager Jack Liao was given the “Best Sales Professional” nod at the 10th Anniversary Golden Wheel Award, an award regarded as something of a blend between the Oscars and the Nobel Prize within the Chinese luxury industry. These two recognitions further confirm the increasing role that Blancpain plays in the Chinese watch market.
While the brand couldn’t match long-time leaders like Patek Philippe or Cartier in the Hurun Report’s latest “Best of the Best” Awards, Blancpain’s steady expansion and more frequent media events indicate that the brand is up for the challenge.