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The time-telling devices in the region have moved beyond style statements to pieces of art and of course, big business.
August 8, 2009 11:11 by Ehtesham Shahid
“Watches may not always give the right time but it is still important to wear it.” That is how James Greenfield, the chief executive officer of Kenzo, describes the accessory that has clearly crossed the barriers of time. In a region where men and gold don’t normally go together, watches automatically become the most visible status symbol, to some the most ostentatious one. Cross the gender wall and watches move to an altogether different level – made of diamond and platinum, gold of a pink, yellow and white kind and what not.
As ever, they come in all shapes and sizes and with value additions that double them as a stopwatch, calendar, mobile phone etc. For all those reasons and more, watchmakers, distributors and retailers in the Gulf region have been laughing their way to the bank. None of them let you peep into their pockets but here is how the secret is given away. In the UAE alone, watch and jewellery advertising expenditure during 2008 stood at $37.469 million representing an 18 percent growth over the corresponding 2007 figure of $31.699 million.
Behind ringing cash bells though there are real threats from multifunctional devices, the mobile phone, the iPod all of which have in-built time-telling functionalities. Then, like any other luxury product, there are gray markets and fakes to contend with. Yet not a week passes without launches of the following kind – Baume & Mercier’s Riviera high jewelry, IWC’s Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar edition, Girard-Perregaux watch worth AED3.66 million and Montblanc Star Eternal Set. The list is endless.