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How about a Rs 2.3 crore watch!

By Aabhas Sharma in New Delhi
December 02, 2006 15:24 IST
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The old adage "time is precious" should be slightly altered, and we should instead say "time is expensive". Step into any lifestyle store in India, take a look at the steadily growing section where watches are kept and you'll know exactly what we mean.

Rado, Omega, Longines, Corum, Jaeger LeCoultre, Baume & Mercier, Tag Heuer, Christian Dior, Cartier, Raymond Weil... The list is endless. While retail space in select malls has always been an option, some of the bigger watch brands are even opening exclusive boutiques and showrooms for watch connoisseurs and expanding their base in India.

Rolex recently launched its exclusive showroom in New Delhi's Shangri-La hotel and other brands like Corum and Patek Philippe are already keeping pace with competitors to set shop in India.

While Omega, Rado, Tissot and Tag Heuer have been popular for some time, Breguet, Corum and Cartier are also becoming favourite brands with watch lovers.

While Tissot at one point was preferred by ardent watch lovers (its price range varied from Rs 10,000 and Rs 2,00,000), newer watch labels, like those from the Swatch group, are priced at a higher range.

The Swatch group has three brands in India - Rado, Omega and Longines - with watches priced between the range of Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 15 lakh.

"There is a market for high-end watches in India and our products are catering to this need," confirms a company spokesperson.

Tag Heuer's luxury watches start from Rs 1.5 lakh and go up to Rs 8 lakh. The company's sports watches - the Link Series - is extremely popular with consumers. They start from Rs 70,000 and go up to Rs 1.5 lakh.

The other top brands are also in overdrive mode. Christian Dior has about 15 models while Tag Heuer has about 24 including Monaco and special edition watches after legendary Formula One driver Ayrton Senna.

Corum recently launched a dozen new models. And Yashovardhan Saboo, managing director, Ethos Studio, a retail outlet that hosts multibrand watches, says that Corum is fast becoming a preferred brand of watch lovers for its unique designs.

He adds, "Limited edition watches like the Potpourri collection get sold within no time even though they are priced around Rs 3 lakh."

Bregeut is another brand that sits pretty on select wrists. Its most expensive watch is the Queen of Naples. Priced at Rs 28.63 lakh, the watch is studded with 64 diamonds, including three solitaires at the crown, base and back.

Bregeut also has watches on a Napoleon theme, which are highly sought after in the country. "Despite the hefty price tag, we sell about five Breguets every month," says Saboo.

Cartier has models like Santos 100, the Declaration line and the Privee Collection. The price range of these watches: Rs 3 lakh onwards.

Brands like Gucci and Jaeger LeCoultre are also planning to up the ante. Gucci has added several new models to its existing collection while Jaeger LeCoultre is planning to open another exclusive showroom in Mumbai and has added 10 new models.

The Harry Winston collection is available in India and starts at Rs 5 lakh and goes upto a whopping Rs 2.3 crore (Rs 23 million). However, there haven't been any takers for the Rs 2.3 crore watch yet!

With the Indian consumers' preference for gold and diamonds, companies are customising watches to suit their needs. Apart from gold, diamond-crusted watches are getting picked up by a lot of people.

Gold straps and gold dials studded with diamonds are preferred, according to experts, by high profile clients. Omega, for instance, had launched a special gold collection for the Indian market while Longines has brought home a diamond watch collection.

Vikramaditya Jaitly, head, marketing and communications, Beyond Luxury, says that gold and diamond watches rarely go out of style. "Longines diamond watches are picked up a lot by women and are clearly the favourite."

Saboo adds, "The market might still be very small, but let's not underestimate the depth of it."

The next time you decide to rest a luxury watch on your wrist, remember, time will be defining fashion once again.

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Aabhas Sharma in New Delhi