Fashion

A female watch collector’s take

Luxury1

Lung Lung Thun. PHOTO | POOL

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Summary

  • For years, men buyers have dominated the luxury watch market. But as women’s wealth grow, they are buying for themselves pricey timepieces, some as collectibles.
  • Asia remains one of the biggest luxury watch consumer markets, absorbing about 53 percent of Swiss watch exports, Europe 31 percent, and the US at  14 percent.

For years, men buyers have dominated the luxury watch market. But as women’s wealth grow, they are buying for themselves pricey timepieces, some as collectibles.

Asia remains one of the biggest luxury watch consumer markets, absorbing about 53 percent of Swiss watch exports, Europe 31 percent, and the US at  14 percent.

Demand from Africa and Oceania is growing, albeit gradually, accounting for about one percent, due to limited production of most timepieces, high prices, and the lack of knowledge on what to buy and from where.

Lung Lung Thun, a watch collector who is based in Hong Kong, where she runs a securities brokerage firm, talked to BDLife on how women should buy and collect timepieces. 

What do women want in a watch, do brands know and understand what women desire? Do all women want pieces that are feminine in design?

Ms Lung is often browsing for vintage and alluring pieces especially from Audemars Piguet, a Swiss manufacturer of luxury mechanical watches and clocks.

Her first watch was a Chanel J12, which costs Sh580,000. The next piece was a vintage Audemars Piguet (AP) in yellow gold with an annual calendar and moonphase. The watch is sold for about Sh2.8 million. Her love for AP grew in 2018 and she bought a frosted gold AP limited edition designed in collaboration with the Florentine fine jewellery designer Caroline Bucci. The watch costs about Sh5.9 million.

Your first piece was the Chanel J12, how did you make the switch to Audemars Piguet?

I had always wanted a Chanel J12 since my first year of university. Back then (2007), there was a lot of heavy marketing for Chanel’s J12 watches and 2.55 handbags. I was never really drawn to Rolex, but with AP, it was love at first sight. I liked the history and vision of the brand, the people, their watch designs, and the fact the royal oak’s design was somewhat masculine which mirrors my personality well. My first AP was a chronograph offshore in purple.

How did you develop a taste in watches and are there specific pieces you prefer?

Women generally view watches as accessories, therefore, you need several pieces to match your outfits or shoes. I like precious metals such as rose gold. I did go through the phase of Daytona, and others, and I lost interest. Now, I buy with a clear direction. For women who want to collect watches, stick to your direction and your taste, always.

AP and A. Lange & Söhne are high on your list of desirables. What is your preference?

I don’t follow a theme when it comes to collecting watches. However, the pieces I like are usually in yellow gold, with perpetual calendars, or at the least a good moon phase.

I love AP, especially the royal oak, it is masculine and sporty but you can still make it look feminine. It is embedded with a lot of history that can be traced back and you can understand how the shape and design have evolved. It still keeps the traditional element which is the shape but still maintains the tradition.

Lange is a reflection of me diving deeper and understanding movements, having in-depth insights on watchmaking. I also like the philosophy of MB&F timepieces. {MB&F watches range from Sh3 million to Sh16 million}.

Most of your pieces have busy dials. Do you have pieces that do not have busy dials?

I have always been drawn to loud pieces. To me, watches don't only tell the time, they are also a piece of art. I like the idea that it’s challenging to fit so many details onto a watch but yet balancing it so it still pleases the eye.

Do you think the luxury watches market has been affected by Covid?

Not in Hong Kong. People in Hong Kong love watches. You would think that sales would slump or perhaps the auctions wouldn’t do well, but nothing has changed. The waiting lists for hyped watches continue. I do however miss having huge get-togethers with my watch collector friends but thankfully we can still connect through WhatsApp chats and the Shanghai Watch Gang on Instagram.

Do you think retailers understand what female collectors want?

There has been a huge shift in customer experiences in the past year. Retailers are listening to female buyers more and taking note of their preferences.

Advertisements speak to women and men differently. For us women, we need to feel the advertisement, it needs to resonate with us. Advertisers should focus on diversity, and make the ads feel real and relatable to women from various regions.

There is a new watch hub on the island of Hainan, in China. What do you think of it?

I love it. It is good for collectors. Watches have become increasingly hard to access, and having more channels for people to enjoy the hobby is only better for the industry as a whole.

Looking at the watchmaking industry, what changes do you want to see?

It would be great if they had prototypes for people to try in the store, to give them the feeling and decide if they want to be on a waiting list rather than purchase it and wish you did not.

Ms Maina is the founder and CEO of Swan Maison concierge in Paris, France