The horology is a domain privileged by the luxury sector. Timeless and full of feelings, luxury watches do not suffer from the economic crisis and even conquer new markets. Whilst today buyers acquire luxury watches less and less for their traditional use and increasingly for pleasure and desire, the acquisition of a watch remains nonetheless symbolic and illustrates a certain social maturity.
Based on this, luxury horology brands started their conquest of a new target market: children and teenagers.
A discreet market of great potential
For many years now, the horology sector has been focusing on women. This novel approach was very successful and continues today as a lifeline in every horologer’s collection.
Nowadays, a new target has attracted the horology sector’s attention. In affluent families, the consumption of luxury goods starts at a very young age, through their activities, hobbies and renowned schools, but also through their clothes and accessories. Amongst these domains, the horology sector has been neglected. Still today, “junior” timepieces are often made of plastic. Hence, the luxury timepiece for children has a great potential and could be at the centre of watchmaker brand’s new strategies.
Two major issues are to be considered. The first would be to expand the market of symbolic gifts. Traditionally a proof of maturity, the watch is an ideal gift for exceptional occasions, including amongst children. The second issue is based on the transmission of values, according to which a teenage wearing a luxury watch since a young age will be more likely to buy luxury watches once an adult. Similarly, the chances that he will buy luxury watches for his children increase dramatically. This plan, conflicting with the traditional logic of a father giving his watch to his son, is now present amongst more and more families.
Which watch for the junior clientele?
A number of models are available for children, however the market struggles to stand out and impose itself. The sociological and economic codes of this sector calls into question the marketing strategies of numerous luxury brands and makes fixing a good price difficult.
For some, the price of luxury watches for children should not be cheap but at least accessible since they are not timeless, as opposed to watches for adults. Certain watchmakers offer accessories at minimum 500 euros or sporty and modern models for about 1000 euros such as the ones offered by Tag Hueur and Tissot. John Isaac also bet on the junior luxury watch market, thinner than traditional watches, to adapt comfortably to children’s small wrists. Whilst some models are successful, the market’s assessment is not overly positive. Many horologers confirm that when they have a larger available budget, buyers have a tendency to ignore junior models for tighter adult watches, such as the very appreciated steel Rolex Daytona, which will last all its wearer’s life.
It also appears that despite watchmakers’ desire to create timepieces which correspond to the desires of children, in most cases 10 to 17 years old don’t have a say in the choice of their watch. Hence, parents will have a tendency to buy models resembling the luxury models for adults.
A different approach, however, was adopted by IWC Schauffthaussen, which offers in 2012 a duo of luxury watches. The Aviateur Mark XVI collection based on the family values where father and son appear, as described by the brand, “as a unified team, from which is born a unique relationship”. Despite being similar in appearance, one of the watches is for the father whilst the other is for his son. The two timepieces can also be engraved to reinforce the symbolic quality of this gift. The adult model being worth 300 000 euros, the price of this duo acted as a deterrent due to its excessive price, especially since there is a high possibility that the father will already have his luxury watch.
Fixing a price of luxury timepieces for children is the principal obstacle to the production and sale of these models. As a marginal sector, watchmaker prefer to concentrate their efforts on models for adults with tighter straps.