In the wake of the controversy over Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s uptown timepiece—a diamond-studded Hublot—a quick study shows that the simple duty of keeping time has unabashedly taken the ostentatious route in the city.
Prestigious watch brands such as Audemars Piguet, Ulysse Nardin, Rolex, Hublot and Breitling—costing several lakh rupees apiece—have increasing number of takers here.
“Bengaluru stands third after Delhi and Mumbai for us,” says Manoj Gupta, associate director of luxury watch boutique Ethos Ltd. “The popular average price point is Rs 9.5 lakh. Made entirely of gold or platinum, Swiss brand Lange & Sohne (costing Rs 14 lakh to Rs 1 crore) also finds takers here.”
These watches are typically sold through orders. “Brands do not supply watches costing over Rs 40 lakh to be kept in stock. We receive 10 to 12 such orders per year from Bengaluru. Five years ago, the city did not even feature in the scheme of things,” says Gupta.
Prithviraj Bagrecha, managing director of multi-brand watch boutique Rodeo Drive, says many buyers don’t disclose their identities since a large chunk of the payments are made using unaccounted money. A recent Union government rule, however, mandates the buyer’s permanent account number (PAN) to be quoted for transactions exceeding Rs 2 lakh.
“Sudden spurt of sales was witnessed in the last three to four years. Popular price point in Bengaluru is Rs 15-20 lakh. Only businessmen aged above 50 years indulge in diamond-encrusted watches,” says Bagrecha, who is currently promoting a limited edition Lord Venkateshwara watch made with gold, emeralds, diamonds and rubies. He’s been receiving enquiries for the 333 pieces at a price tag of Rs 29 lakh each.
The city is home to many watch aficionados in white-collar honchos too. Greg Moran, the 30-year-old founder of Zoomcar, owns one by Dolce & Gabbana. Dinesh Malkani, president-India and Saarc, Cisco, sports a Breitling gifted by his wife.
“I enjoy cars and watches,” says a top businessman who declared he buys luxury watches officially but asked to not be identified. “I love the engineering that goes into making a luxury watch. Bengaluru has many buyers for timepieces at even Rs 1.5 crore. My collection is humble at Rs 5 lakh to Rs 10 lakh per piece.” His most recent purchase was a limited edition watch by Girard Perregaux, a brand that ranks among the global top 10 timepieces.
“International exposure and growing expat population are contributing factors. Buyers buy timepieces for complicated engineering, social status, as collector’s items or investment. A collector’s watch sold at an auction overseas can fetch one 8 to 12 times the original price!” says Gupta of Ethos. Subtle display of wealth is the new name of the game.
Source : ET, Feb, 2016