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Watchmakers wooing women to boost flagging sales

Published on Apr 7, 2014 3:45 PM
The Swiss watchmaker Omega stand during the media day of the 42nd edition of the Baselworld watch fair on March 26, 2014, in Basel. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

BASEL, Switzerland (Reuters) - A recent advert from luxury watchmaker Omega shows a large, technologically advanced timepiece. So far, so typical. But this one is studded with diamonds and worn by actress Nicole Kidman. Called the Ladymatic, it's the future of the industry.

The bulk of the US$50 billion (S$63 billion) Swiss watch market has for years been aimed at wealthy men drawn to high-tech, gadget-loaded timepieces they can wear as status symbols. These customers' interest has waned little despite economic fluctuations - though the recent financial crisis hurt sales, it was followed by a stronger rebound that was driven by demand in China.

Now however, sales of men's watches in China have slowed, and demand in the West is not enough to pick up the slack. Faced with only single digit growth prospects, top brands are looking to the other 50 per cent of the population for inspiration.

"Women are the future of watches," says Mr Jean-Claude Biver, head of LVMH's watch unit. "There's huge potential in women's watches that is only half exploited today."

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