Luxury watch brands continue to sell their products online and at increasingly higher prices. Within the past month three more luxury brands have partnered with third party eCommerce sites Mr Porter and Net-A-Porter, a business that luxury conglomerate Richemont has a 49% stake.
The latest to join Mr Porter is Officine Panerai and it is doing it in a big way. The Italian nautical watch brand is making available 25 timepieces from its Luminor and Radiomir collections, along with a Panerai table clock, on the website. The price range for timepieces is $5,000 to $28,600.
Using eCommerce to sell high-end watches has moved beyond a trend and is now mainstream and inevitable among the few holdouts. Online sales of luxury goods, overall, could triple to $82.8 billion by 2025, according to the 2015 Altagamma-McKinsey Digital Luxury Experience Observatory.
I often talk to watch executives and I am frequently told that market research shows female Asian buyers prefer the simplicity of quartz. Moreover, they are said to be more interested in the aesthetics of the watch presented. I must admit, this saddens me and I still wonder whether this is actually the case.A watch is an ensemble of micromechanics with parts on the finest watches coalescing in spellbinding beauty. I feel an emotional connection with a mechanical movement, seeing numerous parts quietly conspiring to impart time.Recently an editor asked me to compile a list of watches I would purchase if I were a woman. Firstly, they would have to be mechanical and ideally they should allow me to see the movement within, courtesy of a sapphire caseback. With these two criteria, Chopard have fulfilled my wishes. Notwithstanding this, they have sated another horological need that I have. I adore seeing a finely finished movement.The rotor in this watch is beautifully adorned with C?tes de Genève motif and the bevelling on the bridges is magnificent. There is much merit within the case and whilst it does not pretend to be finished to the elevated standards of Chopard L.U.C, it does example some meritorious details.
Watch brands have been deliberate in moving online and even more so when partnering with third-party sites. However, this is obviously changing as well. For example, Panerai has become the 20th luxury watch brand to sell through Mr Porter. Four of the brands on Mr Porter are Richemont-owned. The rest are independent brands with the exception of LVMH-owned Zenith.
It’s probably a good practice to have an online partner. According to PMX Agency’s Trend Report of luxury brands online, two out of five online shoppers continue to shop after leaving a luxury brand’s website. Their first choice is department stores followed by pure eCommerce sites such as the Porter websites.
A week ago, independent watch and jewelry brand, Chopard, announced a partnership with Net-A-Porter for its women’s collection of watches that includes its Happy Dream in rose gold and four models of its Happy Sport collection. The price ranges from $8,570 to $44,880.
A month earlier Piaget joined Mr Porter starting with a launch of four timepieces from its Altiplano collection, including the Altiplano Ultra-Thin 38mm in 18k white goldand 40mm 18k rose gold, the Altiplano Ultra-Thin Chronograph 41mm 18k white gold, and the Altiplano Ultra-Thin 38mm 900P, one of the world’s thinnest handwound mechanical watch.
In addition, Piaget has a Polo S automatic and four Piaget Polo S chronographs in 42mm steel cases with a range of colored dials, geared towards younger, sports minded consumers. The Richemont-owned brand now has a total of 12 watches on the website with prices ranging from $9,350 to $28,600.