AP targets Eastern powerhouse’s growing import market for luxury timepieces
Haute Horlogerie watchmaker Audemars Piguet today announced its first online pop-up boutique in partnership with JD.com. This marks the 143-year-old Swiss manufacturer’s first entry into e-commerce.
AP’s decision to target an online presence in China is as no surprise. The Eastern powerhouse economy has been toted as one of the key reasons for the global recovery of the luxury watch market in recent years.
In 2017 China saw a steep 14.6 per cent rise in imports on the previous, taking their sum of imported luxury timepieces to $3.6 billion, according to data released by the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry.
Francois-Henry Bennahmias, Audemars Piguet CEO, told Watch 1010: “If successful, we may consider exporting the e-commerce model outside China, and would increase watch output slightly to support this.
“Sales have been good in the first quarter of the year – we’ve seen a 9 per cent raise. Last year, sales rose 12 per cent thanks to a shift towards single-brand stores and we are expecting to finish this year on a good note, supported by the e-commerce project in China,” he said.
“If successful, we may consider exporting the e-commerce model outside China, and would increase watch output slightly to support this."
China’s largest online retailer JD.com, a leading trendsetter in the country’s digital transformation, will be handling the luxury delivery service.
The partnership promises JD.com’s “white glove” luxury service, combining the shortest possible delivery time with personal couriers.
The first client to order an AP watch online will receive their watch directly from the hands of Bennahmias and Richard Liu, founder of JD.com.
The Royal Oak collection, in four variations including the yellow gold self-winding chronograph and the 18-carat pink gold quartz, will be among the AP pieces featured on the boutique store.
“Through this partnership, discerning Chinese clients and collectors will have exclusive access to a special selection of the Manufacture’s latest timepieces,” an Audemars Piguet press release stated.
Luxury watchmakers’ increasing presence online is a phenomenon that Watch 1010 has previously examined, and the full feature can be read here: Caught In the Web
Looking back at a quarter of a century of Audemars Piguet's iconic timepiece.