Since the year 2000, the GDP per capita in China has risen from under $1000 per year to almost $9000 in 2017. This dramatic increase in wealth has been far from equal in the communist state, and the young, ultra-rich industrialists of the country’s first economic revolution fueled a boom in Swiss watch buying that distorted the entire global market.
The new rich wanted everybody to know about their success, and an obscenely expensive wristwatch was the statement of choice. These watches also became a currency of sorts, greasing the wheels of commerce as favors were exchanged for gifts.
A government crackdown on corruption took the steam out of the market and led to a glut of supply that retailers in Hong Kong and China could not sell.
It has taken a few years for this correction to work its way through the system and for stock levels to re-balance across the world, but now the Asian tiger economies are roaring again, albeit in a more muted fashion.
This is reflected in the watches being made by the major Swiss manufacturers. The majority of watches launched at Baselworld are smaller, less complicated and have fewer adornments.
Entry price points are affordable again for steel models, which is a bonus for North American retailers.
At the height of the Asian boom, American authorized dealers were being asked to stock over-spec’ed, expensive timepieces that had little allure for domestic customers.
In 2017, and again this year, everything looks commercial and perfectly pitched for genuine watch lovers.
Speaking of perfectly pitched products for the US market. Click here to see in Trend No.3: More bang for the buck