|International Watch Co's flagship store in Beijing, the company's biggest outlet in Asia. (China Daily)|
Swiss Watchmaker sees nation as its key growth area in the future
For more than 50 years the ticking of watches has dictated the rhythm of the life of Kurt Claus. Many times over the past 10 years that incessant beat has taken him to China, where he has been on a mission to promote his company's fine wares.
Claus, chief watchmaker for International Watch Co, has just completed yet another trip to the country, one that has taken him to some of its biggest cities.
One aim of the visits, apart from promoting his company's watches, is to learn more about the country's high-end watch market. His promotional tools include getting-to-know-you sessions in which invited VIPs are shown how the company's watches are made.
"About 10 years ago when I first came to China no one knew the IWC brand," says Claus, 78. "But in recent years that has changed significantly and the watch has become very popular, which is what brings me here every year. In fact, China has become one of our most important markets."
IWC, founded in 1868, is located in Schaffhausen, Switzerland. With a passion for innovation and technical inventiveness, it has built an international reputation and become one of the most sought-after watch brands among Chinese watch collectors and the country's rich.
In recent decades the rise in the purchasing power of the Chinese and the country's huge consumption potential have attracted Swiss watchmakers who have been able to trade on their immense prestige to attract Chinese buyers.
"We regard China as one focus of our company's global strategic marketing - and it will be a key driver of our business growth in the future," says Li Boqing, IWC's managing director China.
Li says that over the past decade, more Chinese have begun to wear expensive watches, and they are willing to spend money on watches with sophisticated functions, which he believes has helped stimulate the sales of IWC watches and of other upmarket brands in the country.