By Huixin Deng of
Additional editing by Stephanie Warren
Swiss watch exports saw their strongest growth in more than five years during 2017 according to a report by the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry. Hong Kong and mainland China were the top two markets for Swiss watches, with sales in Hong Kong rising 21.3 percent to 15 percent of the market and mainland China sales skyrocketing by 44.3 percent to reach 10.9 percent of the market.
According to Bloomberg, the 2012 crackdown on corruption that badly impacted the luxury watch market in China appears to have either played out or lost its teeth. Meanwhile, efforts by the Chinese government to bring luxury spending back to mainland China seem to be working.
Independent of external factors, Swiss luxury watches remain hugely popular in China. A colloquialism illuminates how important they are to signaling success among Chinese elites. The phrase "穷玩车, 富玩表" literally translates as "the poor play with luxury cars while the rich play with luxury watches."
These are the five most popular Swiss luxury watch brands in China.
1. Rolex (劳力士)
Founded in 1905 in Switzerland, Rolex is arguably the most well-known luxury watch brand in China.
Rolex's round face shape is considered auspicious according to Chinese tradition, and its golden crown logo symbolizes status and power.
The brand has also chosen top Chinese musicians Li Yundi (李云迪, seen above), and Yujia Wang (王羽佳) as its brand "testimonees".
2. Patek Philippe (百达斐丽)
Founded in Geneva in 1839, Patek Philippe opened its first China flagship on Shanghai's Bund in 2005.
With its early move into China, Patek President Thierry Stern (seen above) said the Swiss manufacture has found success without adapting to the Chinese market, "If people like Patek Philippe, it's because they like the design and the philosophy of the brand. If you start to adapt yourself to every market, you are going to lose that."
The brand is also notable for not working with any celebrities or brand ambassadors to market its timepieces, in China or worldwide.
3. Omega (欧米茄)
Founded in 1848 in Biel, Switzerland, Omega is famous for its accuracy. It has worked closely with Chinese celebrities to market its watches.
In recent years, Omega has Liu Shishi (刘诗诗, seen above) as its Chinese ambassador.
China actor and singer Hu Ge 胡歌 is a Piaget global ambassador
4. Piaget (伯爵)
Piaget was founded in 1874 by Georges Piaget, who began as a watch manufacturer before he developed his own line of watches in the 20th century. Piaget is very popular in China, with more than 30 stores around the country.
Last year, in honor of the Lunar New Year, Piaget launched a zodiac-themed, special edition of luxury watches to cater to Chinese customers.
5. Longines (浪琴)
Longines is a luxury watch company based in Saint-Imier, Switzerland. Founded by Auguste Agassiz in 1832, Longines is currently owned by the Swatch Group. Its winged hourglass logo, registered in 1889, is one of the oldest, still-active registered trademark in the world.
Longines is aggressively promoting its products in China and has roped in celebrities, such as Aaron Kwok (郭富城), Lin Chi-ling (林志玲), Eddie Peng (彭于晏) and recently, Zhao Liying (赵丽颖, seen above) as its brand ambassadors.