I know what this sounds like. But this is not a list of watches I aspire to buy, or in any other way acquire, in 2012. That list would be much too long to print in just one or two editions of Lounge. But if there are any readers out there who do truly care for this watch columnist, I’d like one of those new Ocean collection diving watches from Harry Winston.
In which case we will talk about the things I’d like to see the watch industry and some watch brands do in 2012. Not all the things on my wish list have to do with specific watches per se. Some of them deal with broader issues. But I think seeing these things happen would please most watch enthusiasts.
Time Tested: The luxury brand Favre-Leuba
• In 2012, I hope HMT finds an acquirer who immediately pumps in some fresh funds, hires some new people and relaunches it as something like the Fabindia of watches: easy to own, easy to buy and easy to understand. The brand, with a reinforced desi brand sensibility, can do wonders at home and abroad. But please don’t cover everything in gold and diamonds and target it at the “luxury segment”. That just won’t work.
• This can also be the year that Titan impresses everyone with Favre-Leuba (FL). At €2 million (around Rs 13.8 crore), the Swiss brand was snatched up for a steal. It may be unrealistic to expect new references and collections already in the new year. But at least one hopes for a glimpse of something new and exciting. Maybe a swanky booth at Baselworld in March and a curtain-raiser or two in India. FL already has some nice watches in the catalogue. Now if only the Tatas can give it the Jaguar Land Rover treatment. If the brand does well in India, it will make everyone get past the lip service and actually take the Indian market seriously.
• It seems unlikely with the policy paralysis that currently cripples the government, but it would be nice if someone listened to the Indian watch industry’s desperate pleas for a more lenient tax regime. Why drive buyers to Dubai, Singapore and London when they should be spending that money here at home? Also, better returns to retailers can finally see this segment of the retail sector get the quality of stores and shopping experience it deserves.
The luxury brand Seiko5
• The billion-dollar evaluations may not be forthcoming, but surely there is potential for a proper Indian watch retail website that deals with high- and mid-range watches. In much the same way that Sukhinder Singh runs The Whisky Exchange online store in London, there has to be room for an online watch store run not by venture capital fiends, but by people passionate about watches. Not only will such a site help educate new and old customers, it can also help with that traditional bugaboo: price discovery. Given the sordid network of contacts, special discounts, and “I know someone who knows someone” that currently operates behind the scenes, a proper online watch retailer would be a breath of fresh air. This could be the year we get that site.
• This should also be the year that brands focus on the watch buyers who stand on the threshold of mechanical movements. Currently most brands promote and talk about their top-end pieces. But what about the truly affordable range of automatics such as the Seiko 5s, or the entry-level models in the Titan Automatic range? 2012 can be the year brands take these pieces to customers and help fledgling collectors not just aspire, but also own automatics and begin to understand mechanicals.
• Last year saw a handful of India-themed special editions by big brands like Hublot and Richard Mille. Hopefully, we will see greater commitment to the Indian market this year than just yellow gold bezels and “his and her” boxes. What wouldn’t I do for an affordable world timer with half-hour time zones?
• And finally, this will be the year I finally discover the holy grail: automatic diver, in-house movement, leather strap, two-tone black and white 43mm dial with power reserve, rotating steel bezel, sapphire glass, see-through back, day date, super luminous, all for less than Rs 30,000. Go on. Laugh. Hope is eternal.
Write to Sidin at email@example.com