Swiss watches sales in China have fallen by almost 30 percent in recent months. The drop reflects the general slowdown in China's economic growth in 2012. At the same time, there's been a growing backlash against perceived conspicuous consumption by government officials. In July, the Chinese government banned officials from using public funds to buy luxury goods. Some Swiss watch industry veterans are unconcerned.
"If there's one thing we have learned about the Chinese, it is that they want exclusivity," said Philippe Stern, the former president of Patek Philippe and the current president's father, who ran the Swiss company for 45 years.
"They do not want mass-market luxury," he told the Wall Street Journal in a recent interview.
In fact, the 173-year-old watch icon is creating a watch-repair school in Shanghai, where it will train local Chinese in the art of luxury-watch repair to meet Chinese demand.
Overall, mainland China accounts for 8.5% of all Swiss watch sales. If you add Hong Kong, the most popular market for Swiss watches, that figure rises to 29.5%.
We will continue to follow this developing story.
Photo credits: Reuters