Luxury watchmakers are finding more tech ways to attract Generation Z, or post-millennials.
They are using Snapchat and bitcoin to woo the young generation, unused to wearing something on the wrist, says an AFP report.
According to the report, at the recent Watches and Wonders trade fair in Geneva, where 48 brands such as Rolex, Cartier and Patek Philippe showed off their latest creations, Swiss watchmakers were well aware of the trend that millennials (born between 1980 and the late 1990s) and Generation Z (born between 1997 and 2010) are taking an early interest in luxury goods.
The spending of both the generations is expected to increase three times faster than that of other generations by 2030, according to a study by management consultants Bain & Company and the Italian luxury brands association Altagamma Foundation.
"It is very important that once a year we showcase that wearing a watch is trendy, and even something for the youngest generation which is not used to wearing watches," Rolex chief executive Jean-Frederic Dufour said during the annual fair, states the AFP report.
The sector needs to reach out to a generation "used to seeing everything on a screen", he said.
“On a stand dedicated to innovation, representatives from the Snapchat instant messaging app showed off an application that lets people try on watches virtually, via a smartphone or tablet. It adapts to the user's wrist to try on, for example, Cartier's flagship models, and even allows them to customise the colours of Hublot watches,” states the AFP report.
Hermes presented a collection with designs inspired by its silk scarves, including one representing a princess on horseback taking a selfie photo, the report adds.
"The younger generation, contrary to popular belief, have more economic power than any generation that preceded them," said Jean-Philippe Bertschy, an analyst with Swiss investment managers Vontobel. "They are earning more, saving more, and investing earlier and at a higher rate than previous generations."
In the nearer term, however, this generation is stifled by soaring housing costs, with Morgan Stanley analysts noting that according to the US census, almost half of US young adults aged 18 to 29 still live with their parents -- a level not seen since the 1940s, adds the AFP report.
"They simply have more disposable income to be allocated to discretionary spending", the analysts said.
H. Moser chief executive Edouard Meylan said that a "younger, more digitalised" clientele was emerging in Asia, states the AFP report. "More than 50 percent of sales in China are to Gen Z and millennials," he told AFP.
The brand has also carried out sales in bitcoin, including a 350,000-Swiss franc ($380,000) watch that sold for 10 bitcoins, which was then the equivalent price when the digital currency was booming, the report adds.
"We filmed the transaction," said Meylan.
Meanwhile, according to a Bloomberg report, Audemars Piguet will offer to replace clients’ stolen watches as part of a new service program created in response to a surge in watch-related crime.
The Switzerland-based brand, whose average watch price is about 50,000 Swiss francs ($55,000), will guarantee to replace, refund or repair any stolen or damaged watch bought in 2022 or 2023 for two years, chief executive officer François-Henry Bennahmias, said in an exclusive Bloomberg interview at the company’s headquarters.