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People's Daily Online>>China Business

China scores in timely move

By Emily Ford (Shanghai Daily)

09:41, March 08, 2012

CHINA has overtaken the United States as the country with the biggest appetite for highend watches such as Rolex or Omega, a major survey showed yesterday.

Almost one in four Internet searches for luxury timepieces last year came from China's mainland, the first time it has topped the survey since its launch in 2004, the World Watch Report showed. The poll, by Switzerlandbased Digital Luxury Group, tracks the online search behavior of more than 1 billion Internet users globally.

Swatch-owned Omega was the most sought-after brand in China last year, accounting for 20.2 percent of searches, followed by Longines with 18.9 percent. Rolex was third with 10.5 percent while Cartier was No. 4, researchers said in a presentation at Baselworld yesterday, the press day of the world's biggest watch fair, which opens today.

Nicolas Hanssens, research manager at the Digital Luxury Group, told Shanghai Daily: "We know that China is definitely becoming the most important market in the world for the luxury watch industry. It is already the case for the Swiss watch industry, especially if you include Hong Kong, which is a key place for watch exports.

Speaking at the China Europe International Business School in Shanghai last week, Georges Kern, chief executive of luxury Swiss watchmaker IWC, said that luxury watches were more an emotional purchase than a practical item.

"Nobody needs a watch to tell the time anymore - the time is everywhere, on your phone, your computer. Why would someone pay 100,000 yuan (US$15,833) to read the time? It is about telling the story, creating the dream," Kern explained.

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