Luxury watches thrive in Saudi Arabia
There is a change in retail environment in the Kingdom
Home to almost 30 million customers, Saudi Arabia is one of the key GCC markets sought by luxury brands. Luxury watch Officine Panerai is one of them.
“As a Swiss-Italian luxury sports watches brand, we understand vey well that we have a spending power in Saudi Arabia represented in VIPs and royal personnel. We have 3 boutiques in KSA – in the main cities of Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam. We also work with two retailers in Aly Bin Aly in Jeddah and Riyadh and Universal jewelers in Eastern province.
Our boutiques come in the street level so it is easy accessible by our customers,” said Milvin George Managing Director, Officine Panerai.
On expectations in Saudi market, George confirmed that there is a change in retail environment. More malls are emerging with the new diversified trends. “We are continuing our commitment in moving and coping with the changes and with our high expectations in global market in general and Saudi market in particular.”
“As luxury sports watches, we are expecting double-digit growth in Saudi market. Saudi Arabia is a growing market and we are very niche brand with no high production. We have 66 boutiques and 300 stores all over the world.”
On how Officine Panerai promotes their brand, he said “in Officine Panerai we have limited editions of productions. In promotion we mainly depend on spreading the word of mouth among our customers, their families and their friends. Sometimes we hold small events for top watch collectors to showcase our watches. We work on increasing awareness very smoothly as we work with customers who already know Officine Panerai especially that we don’t have production,” George noted.
Moreover, he said Officine Panerai have a unique brand DNA, Italian-Swiss made with average prices of watches ranging between SR30,000 to SR800,000.
“We have no direct competitors but we benchmark with other brands like Audemars Piguet, Rolex and Omega, Louis Vuitton, since the position of the brand is unique.”
The history of the brand goes back to 1860, Officine Panerai watches were made for Italian navy. From 1938 to 1993, only 300 watches were produced. These watches were a secret, people heard about them from their family member if in the navy only. The watches were characterized by big dial for night missions, luminescent index and Arabic numerals.
The smallest watch was 44mm. Officine Panerai watches were always seen as big watches. Masculine and it was for the navy.
“Now nowadays we have a small size watch of 40 mm that could be used by sportive style ladies. We don’t change the design, but modify it. We work a lot with the heart of the watch being a Swiss- made. It is very important to make your own movement.”
In 2002 Officine Panerai has become a manufacturing brand and opened its first plant and in 2005, it was the first owned movement in Chattel in Switzerland, since then, over 20 movements were produced.
Panerai works a lot on technical side and offering functions. One of the very unique technicalities is power reserve that can last for 8 days and the GMT or local timing in addition to the actual timing of the city one lives in. Also great attention is paid to the materials and unique colors of watches.
This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on March 10, 2015.