Started three years ago by a team of passionate watch lovers, Art of Time offers some of the finest timepieces to watch aficionados. Karishma Karer visits their Bandra store, that has been created with a great deal of attention to detail and customer experience. A brief conversation with Bharat Kapoor and Gaurav Bhatia from the Art of Time to unravel the retailer’s plans for the future.
Do you feel that the market has stabilized after the reduction of GST and that demand will go up?
Yes, for sure. The start of November has been quite good. The reduction of the GST is pushing it further.
Your thoughts about the luxury market in India?
The customer wants a different experience. It’s not just going to a store and buying a watch. Earlier, it was just about the price and discount. The customers are more educated. Now it is a younger clientele. They have more knowledge. So far, it’s been great. Yes, it is challenging to sell. You need to put in more effort to sell.
What are the brands that you have at the store?
In this store we have Officine Panerai, Cartier, Montblanc, Jaeger- LeCoultre, IWC Schaffhausen and Omega. We have a shop-in-shop concept for all these brands. We have a new store coming up at Nepean Sea Road, in South Mumbai where we are looking at housing a few more brands there.
What are the current challenges that you face as a retailer in today’s market scenario?
The two lakh rupee limit for cash, it’s a challenge. The effort that goes into convincing a customer is a lot! But, this is changing as well.
Can you share some of your strategies to communicate with your customer? Today, social media has really changed the way customers, retailers and brands communicate on a product.
We are active on social media- Facebook and Instagram specifically. This is a part of brand building. It takes time, but it is important to be there. Having said that, we are old school as well. we build our business primarily on word of mouth. We pride ourselves in giving a great in-store experience to our customers. Right from the way the client is greeted we are very particular about the experience. We host various in-store events as well.
Did the demonetization and the issues linked to the GST dampen the demand in the last year?
After demonetization sales took a dip, but it really was not alarming. It was like a slowdown for a month or so, and gradually things were back to normal.
Are you looking at the concepts of boutiques?
Yes, but It has to be worth it. It makes sense for the brands to have them, especially now since the GST has also come down to 18%. That being said for the moment we really want to focus on our multi-brand store.
What are the current trends in terms of customer preferences for watches?
In terms of price range, the range between Rs.3,00,000 to Rs. 5,00,000 is doing relatively well. Dials are getting bigger as smaller dials are out of fashion. Under 40 mm is not really popular in India, for men’s’ watches. People prefer chunkier watch designs. In terms of complications, very few people have reached that stage that they would buy a watch solely for the complication. Perpetual calendars and annual calendars are really preferred. Tourbillons, not really so much, because now everyone is making a tourbillon and so the novelty factor is gone.
What is your view on Independent brands?
A watch lover will be drawn to independent brands. But, for him to justify the money, to actually make a purchase, that is where we feel that it makes more sense for someone who already has a few watches…not for someone who is making his initial purchase of a luxury watch.
What would you include in a watch wardrobe for men?
The Bronzo from Officine Panerai, IWC Schaffhausen’s white gold perpetual calendar blue face, the Cartier Drive, the Reverso from Jaeger- LeCoultre, the Omega Aqua terra and the Montblanc Worldtimer.
Those with a passion for horology, will find themselves immersed at a truly timeless experience at the Art of time!