Life is not a template and neither is mine. Like several who have worked as journalists, I am a generalist in my over two decade experience across print, global news wires and dotcom firms. But there has been one underlying theme in each phase; life gave me the chance to observe and tell a story -- from early days tracking a securities scam to terror attacks and some of India's most significant court trials. Besides writing, I have jumped fences to become an entrepreneur, as an investment advisor -- and also taught the finer aspects of business journalism to young minds. At Forbes India, I also keep an eye on some of its proprietary specials like the Rich list, GenNext and Celebrity lists. An alumnus of Xavier Institute of Communications and H.R College of Commerce and Economics in Mumbai, I have worked for organisations such as Agence France-Presse, Business Standard, The Financial Express and The Times of India prior to this.
Last month, at least 150,000 people, including global watchmakers, buyers and the media, converged at a mega annual springtime watch and jewellery event in Basel, Switzerland, to showcase the latest trends of luxury accessories. At least 1,500 exhibitors, from over 40 countries, revealed their wares at Baselworld 2014. Over the last decade, this world fair has attracted increasing attention led by growing demand from the economies of China, India, Russia and Latin America, even as demand had waned in the West amid the global slowdown.
Forbes India spoke to some of India’s largest luxury watch retailers, who were at Baselworld to trend-spot and identify brands creating the most buzz. “There was less exuberance but an emphasis on good substance. The whole mood was getting back to serious growth,” says Yashovardhan Saboo, owner at Ethos Swiss Watch Studios.
Ethos started operations in 2003—with brands such as Omega and Tag Heuer—when India first allowed watches to be imported officially. A retail chain, part of the listed Kamla Dials & Devices Ltd, Ethos is likely to report a near-30 percent jump in billing orders in the fiscal ending March, Saboo says.
In recent years, people in India have become far more discerning about the brands and type of watches they want, Saboo points out. “Earlier, people were a bit apprehensive about colours like pink, gold and blue. Also, women were earlier not so enthused by large watch crowns. Now they are experimenting more,” Saboo says.
The activity at Baselworld was reassuring, says Biren Vaidya, MD of the Rose Group. “It was nice to see the brands being so engaged in these recessionary times,” Vaidya, popularly called ‘Bee-Vee’, says.
Hublot also released the Big Bang Unico Chrono—the official Fifa World Cup watch—with the seconds and minutes hands featured in Brazil’s yellow-and-green national colours. This watch has the 45-minute mark highlighted in red to signify the end of one half of a soccer match.
Another top Indian retailer, Viraal Rajan, who heads family-owned watch boutique Time Avenue in Mumbai—a popular destination for Bollywood stars—is optimistic about the growth of India’s luxury watch market. “The classics are more popular than ever,” Rajan says, identifying Audemars Piguet, A. Lange & Sohne and Richard Mille as brands that are becoming popular with India’s richest.