Affluent Millennials Re-energise The Analogue Watch Industry
Luxury mechanical watches are making a comeback thanks to affluent Millennial consumers’ appetite for vintage-inspired design. As a result, high-end watch manufacturers now embrace digital experiences to engage their younger clientele. Words by Jonathan Parker.
This year has been an exceptional year for watches. The analogue watch industry made a comeback in 2018, mostly thanks to the affluent Millennial shoppers. While Apple continues to grab the headlines with its Apple Watch, Millennial consumers are still very much interested in buying mechanical Swiss watches. A recent survey from Deloitte found, for example, that Millennials would indeed prefer a mechanical watch over a digital smartwatch if given CHF 5,000 to spend on a gift.
The expectations of the young affluent watch buyers are changing, however. The majority of the Millennial consumers are now drawn towards simplicity, personalisation and transparency when choosing their timepiece.
The luxury watch industry is paying attention to this trend. A new report from Luxe Digital finds indeed that luxury watch brands are focusing on new designs and improving their online presence to drive sales growth. Vintage-inspired designs and online collaborations with social media influencers are particularly important for traditional watch manufacturers.
Comeback of the classics: vintage-inspired watch faces are trending
Vintage-inspired watch design is one of the key trends of the year. Mechanical watch buyers are looking for a traditional and classic style. Thankfully, the luxury watch industry has plenty of historical timepieces to draw inspiration from. A number of important watches celebrated their anniversary recently. The Cartier Tank, for example, turned 100 last year, while the Rolex Sea-Dweller turned 50. The Omega Speedmaster, Railmaster and Seamaster each turned 60 and the Patek Philippe Aquanaut 20 (among other anniversaries).
The trend for vintage-inspired models also continued with the arrival of the new Tag Heuer Autavia, the release of the Omega 60th-anniversary trilogy as well as vintage-inspired models from Montblanc, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Longines to name just a few.
Mechanical watch manufacturers embrace digital
While the analogue industry saw tremendous growth throughout the year, it has become clear for every luxury watch manufacturer that digital will play a central role in the long-term relevance of the industry. Every watch brand is now adopting some form of digital strategy to reach, engage, and even sell high-end watches to their consumers. Luxe Digital found indeed that luxury online retail is growing faster than any other sales channel for the watch industry.
Affluent consumers have demonstrated that they are comfortable purchasing expensive watches online. It’s now up to the watch manufacturers to define what exactly their online offering should look like and how to seamlessly integrate their offline presence with their new online activities to deliver delightful experiences to their consumers.
Words by Jonathan Parker.