Newspaper article International New York Times

Digital Generation Meets Analog Style

Newspaper article International New York Times

Digital Generation Meets Analog Style

Article excerpt

Watch companies are seeking ways to appeal to younger buyers, who will be vital to the future of the luxury watch market.

Malin Meyer doesn't wear a watch, and sees no reason why she should. "I used to wear a watch," the 22-year-old Norwegian graduate student said, "but it broke about a year ago and I simply never got around to fixing it or buying a new one, since I have a watch on my phone. "

It's no secret that watch companies have difficulty reaching out to the generation of consumers that is more likely to reach for their phones than to strap a watch on their wrists. Nevertheless the proliferation of watch sites and other purveyors of information has shown that, as millennials move into the job market, they are interested in watches, both the way they look and the way they function.

"It's an important market because it's a big market, and beside this it's the market of tomorrow. As a consequence you have a double effect if you address" them, said Jean-Claude Biver, chairman of the watch division at LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton. "You speak to those who can already be your customer, and you speak also to those who might become your next customer."

Denis Tan, 25, a Singaporean who, like Meyer, is a graduate student at Columbia University in New York, is drawn to watches because of their technology and craftsmanship.

"I've always worn a watch," he said. He wears a Thomas Earnshaw Flinders watch that his girlfriend gave him as a gift for his birthday last year. "A good one has added significance for me because I'm an engineer by training and I've always been fascinated by the intricate craftsmanship of automatic movement watches."

Benjamin Clymer, executive editor of the watch site Hodinkee, says that the average age of his readers is 37 but that "the largest growth of traffic is between 18 and 25." He credits the increase to the rise in information about watches during the last five years, both in glossy magazines and on the Internet.

The world of watches "is more welcoming now," he said. "You no longer need to be a major watch collector to be a part of the conversation."

Other young watch wearers simply like the way their watches look. Henrietta Low, 25, a public relations executive at the Corinthia Hotel in London, says she loves her Cartier Tank Solo Watch because "it is simple, elegant, and goes with everything. The strap is changeable, so every few years I go for a different color. I've had black, salmon pink and navy blue. I just love glancing down at my watch. We spend our lives glued to screens, so if I can avoid them I do."

Ms. Low's watch was a gift from her parents for her 18th birthday.

According to watch retailer Marcus Margulies, this is the way many young people come by their luxury watches.

Mr. Margulies is chairman of Time Products and owns Marcus Watches in London, where watches start in the thousands of dollars and go up to six figures. …

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