So where are the multitudes of watch collectors of the future really coming from? While the US has a good number of watch collectors and connoisseurs, as does Europe, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore, indications are that now China is the new frontier. This is a burgeoning market with a huge population, staggering wealth and a thirst for knowledge about timepieces.
In fact, auction experts agree that Asia is the largest-growing watch collectors’ market in the world. “Most of our Asian clients already own between 20 and 200 watches in their collections, and are adding to those,” says Julien Schaerer, Watch Director and Auctioneer for Antiquorum, New York.
This may well be why so many watch brands are quickly setting up stunning free-standing stores in China. Recently, on a trip to Beijing with Omega for the unveiling of their new Ladymatic watch line, I had the privilege to visit their largest Beijing Boutique at Oriental Plaza shopping mall. Omega has had a major retail presence in China for well over a decade and already has multiple free-standing stores.
What was amazing was that on one short block – stacked one next to the other – were the Who’s Who of watch brands. From A to Z – well “V” actually – stood boutique after boutique – chocked closer together than anything I’ve seen before. One barely has to walk 20 steps to go from Audemars Piguet to Glashutte, IWC, Piaget, Omega, Ulysse Nardin or Vacheron Constantin (just opening its doors as I write this).
So for the world traveler and watch lover, Beijing has it all – the history of the Great Wall, the serenity and power of the Forbidden City, and now the watch experience of dozens of the world’s finest brands within a one-block radius.