— Despite sagging Swiss exports to Hong Kong and China, interest in high-end Rolex replica watchmaking has not waned.
“China is a sleeping giant. Let her sleep, for when she wakes, she will move the world,” so said French Emperor Napoléon Bonaparte (1769 to 1821). Imagine, the potential and might of China was already understood almost two centuries ago and it was only over the last two decades that most of the world’s economies began to realise how important this huge Asian country with a population of 1.3 billion is when it is wide awake.
This point is especially relevant for the Swiss Replica Watches industry. Fifteen years ago, China was not even in the top 20 markets for Swiss watch exports. With what seemed like an insatiable appetite going by its cumulative growth of more than 200% for Swiss fake watches exports in value terms over the past 10 years, China is now the third largest market in the world, behind second-placed United States. The world’s most populous country currently has a significant market share of more than 5%, based on statistics between January 2015 to July 2015 from the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry.
Hong Kong remains the largest market for Swiss watch exports in terms of value and together with China, these two markets absorb more than 20% of Swiss watch exports, double the market share of the United States.
However, China is currently taking a break and perhaps becoming “sleepy”. Between January and September 2015, Swiss watch exports to China have slumped 9.2% to CHF 1.04 billion. Swiss watch exports to Hong Kong have taken a bigger hit, declining 20.5% to CHF 2.98 billion. However, in value terms, Hong Kong and China have retained their first and second spots respectively.
The Asia-Pacific region, including Japan, are major markets for Swiss watch exports as their combined share is 51% as compared to 33% for Europe and 14% for America.
This rightly explains why the Cheap Replica Watches&Wonders Haute Horlogerie exhibition in Hong Kong, which spanned four days from 30 September to 3 October 2015 is viewed as an important event in this part of the world. Despite sagging Swiss exports to Hong Kong and China, interest in high-end watchmaking has not waned.
According to the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie, organisers of Watches&Wonders, the exhibition with 12 well-known international fake watches brands as hosts, welcomed 20,000 visitors in 2015, representing an extremely pleasant 25% increase over that of 2014. If you thought the visitors only saw watches, you’d be wrong; the exhibition included workbench demonstrations and talks from local experts such as William Bai who spoke on the watch industry’s history in China and Carson Chan, Head of Mission, FHH Greater China, who explained mechanical watches, perpetual calendars and even chronographs to attentive crowds.
“Fine watchmaking goes well beyond line-ups of sophisticated timepieces,” says Fabienne Lupo, Chairwoman and Managing Director of Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie. “It is a unique experience, a journey of the centuries, an encounter with the art and science of time. It stirs emotions that transform a timepiece into an object of passion and desire.”
Speaking of experiences and journeys, what was interesting was the display of a fragment of the Berlin Wall at the entrance of the A. Lange & Söhne booth. This German watchmaking company was expropriated by the German Democratic Republic in 1948 and it was only after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the end of socialism and German reunification in 1990 that what was once “illusory” in the words of Walter Lange, would soon become reality. In 1990, Walter Lange re-launched the A. Lange & Söhne brand.
Adding star appeal to the event were celebrities. Montblanc had brand ambassador and Hollywood star Hugh Jackman gracing their booth. Malaysian-born Michelle Yeoh who gained popularity when she played the female lead in the 1997 James Bond movie, “Tomorrow Never Dies”, was seen sporting Richard Mille’s RM26-02 Evil Eye.
Baume & Mercier drew attention to their booth when Canadian-born Hong Kong actress Charlene Choi visited. Meanwhile Hong Kong actress Carina Lau was spotted with Piaget’s Rose ring and earrings and she became the first Chinese star to be styled with the brand’s first complication fashion replica watches – the Limelight Stella.
Guests of Vacheron Constantin were entertained by Hong Kong singer Sandy Lam during their special 260th anniversary dinner held at the Sky100 Observatory Deck located at the International Commerce Centre.
Roger Dubuis had Korean actress Kim Hee-Seon over at their booth and for dinner. On her wrist, nothing less than the distinctive Roger Dubuis ladies watch was observed.
The elegance and refined beauty of Van Cleef & Arpels was consistent throughout the fair and visitors had a pretty good idea of how their jewellery and timepieces like the Cadenas watch would look like, especially with models adorning these products throughout the fair.
The traditional lion dance was not to be missed at Watches&Wonders. At the opening ceremony officiated by Fabienne Lupo and Dr Peter Lam, chairman of the Hong Kong Tourism Board, the two dotted the mirror shields of the lions to bring them to life.
The lion dance is a symbolic ceremony and is performed to bring prosperity and good fortune. After the official Watches&Wonders opening ceremony, the lions performed their symbolic dance at individual booths as well. What is interesting is the fact that the lion is not even a native animal to China, yet its tradition dates two thousand years back.
Interesting products which were also noted and on display include Panerai’s PAM848 Luminor Sealand 3 Days Automatic Acciaio with the cover engraving of a goat. This is simply because 2015 is the year of the Goat based on the Chinese zodiac.
At the Cartier Replica Watches booth, what caught our eyes included a one-of-a-kind Cartier high jewellery snake décor watch powered by a quartz movement, adorned with brilliant-cut diamonds and featuring nine yellow cushion-cut sapphire diamonds totalling 24.28 carats.