reiss-schmidt: India fastest-growing mkt for fashion watches: Timex

NEW DELHI: India has become the fastest-growing market for watches bought by young consumers who use them as fashion accessories, said Tobias Reiss-Schmidt, president & CEO, Timex Group. As traditional watchmakers gear up to face off against Apple, currently the largest watch company in the world, Reiss-Schmidt said conventional players such as Timex are positioning themselves as fashion brands rather than makers of functional timepieces. “The watch is not a utilitarian tool anymore. You can see time on your phone,” Reiss-Schmidt told TOI. “We are in the fashion business, and we are all about surprising and delighting consumers through great designs and storytelling.” While it has partnered with Missoni and Versace for the luxury market, the Netherlands-based company has found success in the mass-market fashion space by partnering with brands such Adidas Originals, Ted Baker and Guess among several others. “Smartwatches are an opportunity for us. But I also view traditional watches and smartwatches as two separate markets,” said Reiss-Schmidt. “So, someone who enjoys a smartwatch for part of the day or of the week can absolutely also buy a traditional watch right to go out at night or to wear on other days.” Timex’s share in the wearables market is not significant but according to the company, its bullishness on traditional watches is backed by research. “I know that there’s a general perception that traditional watches are something for the older generation and that younger consumers are not wearing traditional watches,” he said. “But watch wearing habits across age groups are similar, our research has shown. And if you look at these percentages, they are very similar across the age groups.” When asked about India’s potential as a traditional watch market, Reiss-Schmidt said watch penetration here is very low, estimated at 35%, and multiple ownership is even lower at 5%. “So looking at industry growth in the last few years, the trend is clear that watches are an important accessory and there is great potential for the brands that make trendy iconic timepieces,” he said. “And there is a strong optimism in the market which is now coming out of this Covid period. There is a good consumer demand and the category overall is doing well.”

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