Longines / Montblanc The Singapore Connection
Online shopping may be on a strong uptick but established watch brands are not neglecting their brick-and-mortar stores, notably those in Singapore.
We may be living in the digital age where e-commerce reigns but that doesn’t mean that a brand’s physical retail presence should be downplayed. In fact, brands such as Montblanc and Longines have boosted their retail presence in Singapore by expanding and refreshing their retail store concepts.
In December 2018, Longines officially opened its flagship Singapore boutique located along the city’s well-known Orchard Road shopping strip. Taiwanese actress and model Lin Chi-Ling was the guest-of-honour. The slender and tall beauty has been a Longines Ambassador of Elegance since 2005.
The store which covers more than 1,500 square feet or around 140 square metres, is larger than brand’s other boutique located at Marina Bay Sands. From what we understand, more tourists frequent the Longines boutique at Marina Bay Sands while locals tend to visit the store at Wisma Atria.
The Longines Boutique at Wisma Atria features a centrepiece formed by five watch towers. Inside, the first section showcases the brand’s key collections: Elegance, Watchmaking Tradition, Equestrian, Sport and Heritage.
The second section is a delight for collectors as it is where museum pieces from the brand are displayed. Known as the Heritage Corner, this is where fans of the brand can soak in a part of the brand’s more than 185 years of history.
“We hope that this boutique will become a destination for watch collectors and enthusiasts to experience watches in an elegant environment reflecting the DNA of the brand,” says Juan-Carlos Capelli, vice president and head of international marketing at Longines.
Speaking of experience, Montblanc had also refreshed two stores in Singapore in 2018 with their new boutique concept. Interestingly, Montblanc CEO Nicholas Baretzki surmises that online shoppers might also want to visit their boutiques to discover more about the products, enjoy the service and soak in the experience.
Montblanc’s newest boutique in Singapore, located at the Raffles City Shopping Centre, was officially opened in April 2018. Covering 1,124 square feet or 104.5 metres, the store offers what the brand has termed the NEO boutique concept. NEO refers to The Maison of Fine Lifetime Companions and the concept is about expressing Montblanc’s values: The Best of European Craftsmanship, Heritage of Sophistication, Performance and Innovation.
“Asia is a fast-growing region and Singapore is an important market in Asia. We want our customers to view our products and experience the brand’s heritage, excellence and our value-for-money offerings. Montblanc is about European craftsmanship, innovation and stories. The segments that we are in: writing instruments, watchmaking and leather, form three strong foundations of the brand and it is important to note that we are verticalised,” says Baretzki.
Montblanc has already established a foothold in China as it has established its presence in 68 cities. According to World Population Review, China has 65 cities with a population of more than a million and 360 cities with the population size between 100,000 and one million. Another 387 cities in China have population sizes between 10,000 and 100,000.
Asia accounts for slightly over half (52.7%) of Swiss watch exports, according to statistics from the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry FH (as of November 2018). The Far East accounts for 34.4% of total Swiss watch exports. China, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore are among the top 10 destinations for Swiss watch exports.
Between January and November 2018, Swiss watch exports to Singapore amounted to CHF1.02 billion, placing this South East Asian city at seventh spot among the world’s top Swiss watch export markets.