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Nirupesh Joshi, co-founder and creative director of Bangalore Watch Company (BWC), feels that the brand’s latest Apogee Karman Line series makes for a fantastic extraterrestrial story on the wrist. Joshi’s claim is not without some merit. Dubbed as the ‘Indian space watch’, the purpose-built timepiece was ‘space-tested’ last month after it undertook a stratospheric flight in a customised carbon-fibre spacecraft, reaching an altitude of 1,14,000 ft (35 km) and returning intact to Earth. 

“Building a watch qualified for space is no mean feat,” says Joshi. “We approached a private company in the UK that specialises in high-altitude balloon flights to build a light-weight carbon-fibre platform weighing 2 kg to carry the watch to space, tethered to the balloon. We performed multiple tests for it to survive the harsh environment of space, and recover the watch spacecraft safely back on the ground,” he adds.

Like Joshi, consumers are increasingly looking for products that tell an authentic and luxurious story, backed by world-class quality. No wonder, watch brands are now riding high on innovation and exclusivity, focusing on elegant designs, detailing and exceptional craftsmanship to offer a unique blend of art, technique and heritage.Who is Priti Adani, a doctor and driving force behind Gautam Adani’s success? Know about her life, career, and net worthDwayne Johnson to Meryl Streep: 7 Hollywood actors and their net worthRupali Ganguly earns Rs 3 lakh per episode for Aupamaa? Here’s a look at her education, career, and massive net worthMeet Sidhartha Mallya, son of Vijay Mallya; Know about his luxurious lifestyle, relationships, expensive assets, and more

“Watchmaking is no alien to this concept. Luxury watchmakers worldwide, while retaining the core of the art of horology, have been focusing on authentic storytelling for decades. The culmination of high-quality design, craftsmanship and storytelling is the future of luxury products and global trends,” says Joshi, who annually produces about 1,000-1,200 watches, costing on an average Rs 92,000 apiece. The Karman Line is a set of 50 limited-edition watches priced at Rs 2,40,000 ($2,850 approximately) made with Cerasteel, a combination of surgical-grade stainless steel with a hard ceramic coating outside. The dial is made from a 4.5 billion-year-old meteorite found along the border of Sweden and Finland, Muonionalusta.

For its 140th anniversary this year, Italian luxury fashion house Bvlgari introduced a new Octo Finissimo Automatic Sketch Dial. The sketched dials depict original hand drawings to pay homage to hand-drawn Renaissance renderings. The Octo Finissimo watch series has already set nine records, including the world’s slimmest three-hand watch and the world’s slimmest automatic chronograph in the past one decade.

Another noteworthy launch last month was that of Tudor’s Pelagos FXD. Specifically engineered for cyclists, the Swiss luxury watchmaker’s latest model has a chronograph scale wrapped around the dial in a spiral, allowing the average speeds that cyclists routinely operate at to be read at a glance.

The new innovations in storytelling and technology are taking the global luxury watch market to a new high, to register an incremental growth of $1.78 billion by 2025, as per global technology research and advisory firm Technavio. The APAC region is the key market in terms of revenue generation and is expected to offer significant growth opportunities for market players. Factors such as the growing HNWI population, expanding middle class, and rising consumer inclination towards luxury products are creating significant demand for luxury watches. Besides, the high growth potential in the region is attracting many international luxury watch manufacturers to enter the regional market.

Customisation is key

Besides factors like heritage and innovation, customisation is key to the luxury watch segment as consumers look for one-off products. Gaurav Mehta, founder-director of Jaipur Watch Company, says, “There has been an evident shift in the consumers’ mindset. The increase in sales figures can be factored to product innovations along with revenge shopping to an extent today.”

Mehta, whose company has clocked a sale of Rs 1 crore (luxury offline) and Rs 1.45 crore (luxury online) in 2022-23 and Rs 2.5 crore (luxury offline ) and Rs 3 crore (luxury online) in 2023-24, feels, “There is an upward demand for ‘Made In India’ luxury products in this industry. We are seeing a surge in the demand for bespoke watches.”

His iconic coin collection watch was recently worn by English pop icon Ed Sheeran. With a price tag of Rs 45,000, the collection features a Japanese Miyota 8215 movement retrofitted inside an actual 1947 one-rupee coin with the numeral in traditional Devanagari script. The customised watches are priced at Rs 20,000 whereas the bespoke gold watches start from Rs 2 lakh onward. Another bespoke collection is The Baagh, limited to 50 pieces, paying homage to the lavishness of the Art Deco period.

“Consumers in the watch segment seek exclusivity, craftsmanship and heritage. They prioritise features like precision, quality materials and unique design elements such as sustainable practices using ethically sourced materials, reducing waste and implementing eco-friendly manufacturing techniques,” adds Mehta, who has recently designed a new stamp watch using upcycled steel. The upcycled paper stamp inside the dial dates back to the year 1937, valued at 3 pise, the lowest denomination of the stamp series, followed by 9 pise, 1/2 anna and so on till 12 anna.

Meanwhile, for Joshi, making watch dials from meteorites is challenging— the material breaks easily. So for every dial made, 4-5 pieces are lost. “The beauty of this material lies in their zig-zag pattern created because the rocks are floating in space for millions of years. The patterns are unique—no two watches will have the same pattern,” says Joshi, whose company ships watches to customers in 30 countries across the globe, and has about 10 Swiss-trained watchmakers who assemble watches at their Bengaluru-based workshop.

Heritage and exclusivity are the foundations of the luxury watch industry. Siddharth Bhagat, director of Amazon India Fashion, is attuned to the changing tides of luxury-meets-accessibility, and feels it is important to captivate the new generation of timepiece enthusiasts as they are increasingly buying premium watches for both gifting and self-use.

“We have noticed an increased interest in international premium brands priced at Rs 15,000 and above, proving that premiumisation is indeed impacting all facets of fashion and lifestyle. This summer, we have witnessed a 3x increase in demand for premium watches, with notable interest in brands like Seiko, Invicta, Guess, Armani Exchange, Mathey Tissot and more. There is also a rise in demand for metallic automatics and luxury sports watches from brands in the premium range,” says Bhagat.

Amazon India Fashion recently added new international premium brands to its selection, such as Stuhrling original, Olto-8, Atowak and Swarovski.

Amazon India Fashion has seen Gen Z’s contribution to premium watches in the range of 30-45% depending on brands. While classic luxury brands like Seiko have about 30% sales coming from Gen-Z consumers, new-age brands like Invicta and D1Milano see about 45%. 

Brands galore

Luxury watch brands are expanding their retail footprint by adding mono brand boutiques in India, and making their collections accessible to the people. For instance, Mumbai’s Jio World Plaza now houses some high-end luxury brands like Balenciaga, Giorgio Armani Caffé and Rimowa, along with flagship boutiques of Jaeger-LeCoultre, IWC, Cartier and Bvlgari.

Ethos Watch Boutiques houses watch brands like Omega, Panerai, Longines, Baume & Mercier, and others with multi-brand outlets. Tata CLiQ Luxury has partnered with TimeVallée, a luxury multi-brand boutique, to exclusively launch their first digital boutique in India while the TimeVallée by Art Of Time also opened its doors in the heart of Mumbai.

Kapoor Watch Company, the authorised retailer for luxury Swiss watches in India, celebrated the 75th year of independence creating 150 Franck Muller timepieces. All 150 had a green leather strap, but 100 pieces were made in steel and gold and 50 in rose gold, priced at Rs 11,70,000 and Rs 18,72,000, respectively.

Time and again, brands have even experimented with their style and designs. Longines celebrated its 190th anniversary in 2022 with a limited edition (190) watch piece in the iconic Swiss brand’s legacy and uninterrupted history that starts at a retail price of $2,400.

Similar is the story of Titan’s licensed brand watches like Tommy Hilfiger, Kenneth Cole, Anne Klein, Coach and Police, which are available at Amazon, Helios, World of Titan and Shoppers Stop across India. While Kenneth Cole has created men’s and women’s range for sleek and classic timepieces, Coach’s Greyson Ceramic is a gorgeous, eye-catching watch with rainbow-coloured indices. Tommy Hilfiger has geometric accents, semi-precious stones, as well as unconventional twists on classic designs.


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