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The Internet and luxury watches: China is hot on the heels...
Economy

The Internet and luxury watches: China is hot on the heels of the United States

Tuesday, 08 February 2011
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Christophe Roulet
Editor-in-chief, HH Journal

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The latest World Watch Report from IC-Agency confirms the rise of China, which is also reflected in online searches by watch fans. IWC, Patek Philippe and Zenith remain the top three brands searched for on the Internet.

At the last SIHH (Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie), IC-Agency unveiled its 2011 World Watch Report on luxury watch brands and their Internet presence. The report investigated 10 markets including the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China), 25 brands and around 280 watches in terms of their Internet presence, via an analysis of several hundred million online searches including those on Baidu, China’s leading search engine, which has a market share of 72%.

Source: World Watch Report 2011 / © IC-Agency
Source: World Watch Report 2011 / © IC-Agency
Russia is also on the rise

This new inclusion certainly goes part of the way to explaining the rise of China, which is now the second Internet market for luxury watchmakers with 25% of all online searches, just behind the United States (29%). It is also interesting to see Russia’s position (8%), equal to the UK but ahead of France (7%) and Italy (7%). However, web users’ interests vary considerably from region to region. While watch fans in “mature” Western markets tend to search for specific watches, the Chinese and Indians base their searches more on price. In terms of counterfeits, the United States and Brazil top the league.

China’s share also benefits brands popular with Internet users in the country: Vacheron Constantin represents 39% of all searches, IWC 32% and Patek Philippe 27%. For Vacheron Constantin, 61% of searches come from BRIC countries. As a result, IWC (up 6.7 points to 31.4% of all searches) and Patek Philippe (up 5.3 points to 18.8%) have consolidated their positions in the ranking of the most searched for brands on the Internet, followed by Zenith, which has held its position despite a 6.2 point decline to 10.2%.

Source: World Watch Report 2011 / © IC-Agency
Source: World Watch Report 2011 / © IC-Agency
150,000 Facebook fans

In terms of specific watches, the top three remain the same, with Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Reverso in first place (8.8%), followed by Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak (6.1%) and the IWC Portuguese (5%). Three new ranges entered the ranking of the 15 most searched for collections on the web: the Royal Oak Offshore line by Audemars Piguet, IWC’s Mark series, and Sky Moon from Patek Philippe, ousting the Blancpain Léman, Blancpain Flyback and Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Mastercompressor. Worth noting is that IWC now has six collections in the top 11 places.

The report also looks at the impact of Facebook. Year-on-year growth was 513%, bringing the number of fans of the brands’ Facebook pages to 150,000. Audemars Piguet’s page attracted the most (45,000 compared to 1,100 for the previous year), ahead of IWC (38,100) and Zenith (17,750). Patek Philippe is the only brand without an official Facebook page!

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