As export figures confirm, demand for watches is surging in China. “In August, the markets were difficult for Swiss watchmaking, except for China (+44.9%) which grew very strongly for the third month in a row,” confirms the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, which goes on to note that “Cumulative performance for the first eight months of the year shows that China has already returned to growth, at 1.6%.” This makes for a favourable climate for Watches & Wonders, which hosted a first event in Shanghai, September 3rd to 9th, completed by a digital platform that launched on the third anniversary of Tmall’s Luxury Pavilion. And this was just the start of the adventure for Watches & Wonders in China. From September 29th through October 31st, eleven* of the most prestigious watch brands will be in Sanya, a resort on Hainan island, China’s southernmost province.
Behind this second event is a cooperation agreement between China Duty Free Group (CDFG) and the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH), which organises Watches & Wonders. A cloud signing ceremony took place on September 17th between Charles Chen and Emmanuel Perrin, the respective presidents of the two new partners. “This exclusive cooperation is a further reflection of our strategy of resource sharing, mutually complementary advantages and synergy between strong market players like FHH and CDFG as long-term partners,” declared Charles Chen. “An embodiment of our common pursuit for demonstrating and communicating the aesthetic and cultural values of watches and jewelleries. I am fully confident that with our joint efforts and your tremendous support, this cooperation will offer a gala for watch and jewellery lovers in China, usher in the ‘China time’ for the Chinese tourism retail market and open up new landscapes for duty free industrial cooperation in China and worldwide.”
China Duty Free Group (CDFG) is the state-owned enterprise that develops duty free business across the country. Since it was set up in 1984, it has grown to become a heavyweight in the sector. The group has established 240 stores across the territory and is also present in Cambodia, in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. Currently with a thousand brands in its portfolio, China Duty Free Group ranks among the global top three duty free distributors. It also operates Sanya International Duty Free Shopping Complex, the largest duty free mall in the world. The complex opened in 2014, features more than 300 international brands and serves some 200 million visitors a year.
This temple of luxury will be the home of Watches & Wonders in Sanya for one month, just as the Golden Week holiday gets under way, when millions of Chinese travel. “The W&W event ecosystem has landed in Sanya for this Golden Week and represents a unique opportunity for our participating Maisons to present their creations and connect directly to the Chinese clientele, offering them a wonderful immersive experience at the heart of the exceptional CDF Mall in Hai Tang Bay,” said Emmanuel Perrin. The eleven brands will showcase their latest releases in a dedicated space inside CDF Mall, to the media and VIP customers only for the first three days, then opening to all watch enthusiasts. Also part of the programme are hands-on introductions to watchmaking, augmented reality experiences, as well as a series of talks and discussions. For those who can’t be in Sanya, this exclusive event is relayed on the watchesandwonders.com platform.
*Exhibiting brands – Watches & Wonders Sanya: A. Lange & Söhne, Baume & Mercier, Cartier, IWC Schaffhausen, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Panerai, Piaget, Hermès, Montblanc, Roger Dubuis, Vacheron Constantin.