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Image credit: Timesupply
Image credit: Timesupply

Sports watches toe the line

It’s not surprising that sports watches perform well in the local market given the penchant of Australian consumers for both playing and watching sport, as well as spending time in the great outdoors.

When asked to list which Seiko models are particularly popular among male consumers, the brand’s Australian group marketing manager Stuart Smith nominated the sports range.

“The sports range continues to be more appealing to male consumers. Our alarm chronograph models are both eye-catching and practical. Male consumers generally like a larger case construction, a distinctive and interesting dial, some colour accents and water resistance (for active water sports),” he says.

Larry Porter, chief executive of Ice-Watch distributor Bolt International both in Australia and in New Zealand, has also found water resistance to be a strong drawcard for consumers.

“We find the key ‘sports’ feature is our 10ATM (100-metre) water resistance,” Porter explains, adding, “Australians want their watches to be multi-purpose, even when buying a fashion watch; it needs to stand up to the rigours of an outdoor lifestyle. This has been an important part of our growth in Australia as all our timepieces are minimum 10ATM.”

The sports connection doesn’t stop there. According to Porter, Ice-Watch has achieved significant exposure from its partnership with the Queensland Reds rugby union team. The two-year collaboration announced last year sees the brand serving as official watch partner for the team. Ice-Watch also released a BMW Motorsport collection last month.

Porter believes such partnerships are beneficial when targeting local consumers: “Australians (men and woman) are very parochial about sports at local and national levels. One can target directly to a specific subset of one’s target market or access a new demographic.”

The rise in fashion watches over the past few years has combined with the demand for sports-related functionality to create a new fashion-sports sector.

Timesupply managing director Ken Abbott states that Vostok-Europe watches definitely cross over both fashion and sports categories.

“This [fashion and sport] is ingrained in the brand’s DNA,” he says, careful not to underplay the integrity of the brand’s sport functions. “These watches are made for going to extremes; they are not fashion watches made to look like sports watches. Vostok-Europe has built a brand strategy around testing its watches in extreme situations, putting its watches on the wrists of real people doing real things, who become ambassadors for the brand.”

Such extreme situations include sending watches to the Dakar Rally, the deepest caves on earth and even outer space, as was the case with the Lunokhod-2 model.

West End Collection managing director John Rose believes there is a difference between a sporty watch with features and a sports watch that is designed to be a piece of athletic equipment.

“Asics watches are a piece of equipment; they are lightweight, ergonomically designed and made to perform a specific function. You would generally only wear your Asics watch whilst you are training or racing,” Rose explains, asking, “Who wants to wear a sweaty watch with their suit? Many other sports watch brands, including our Puma watches, have a highly fashionable appeal to them as well as offering a great number of sports features, such as chronograph and countdown timers.”

Needless to say, Rose attests sales of sports watches are on the rise, which he attributes to growing appeal across a wider audience.

“Today, sports watches are becoming more of a wellness product, giving direct feedback on things such as how many calories are burned, how many steps are taken during a day and how far you have travelled.”

When it comes to the latest advancements and consumer demands in the sports watch area, he states, “It can easily be said that yesterday’s ultimate feature is today’s standard.”

Rose gives the example of the Asics range of watches that includes standards such as 100-metre water resistance, 500 lap timers, dual time zone and three alarms, with additional features like heart rate monitors, pedometers and specialised programs for training. He also indicates such functionality sometimes requires certain collaboration between watch brands.

“Asics has partnered with Seiko to produce their new range of watches, which gives the athlete tailored and live information to help them find and achieve critical performance measures, such as cadence and anaerobic thresholds.”

Whether it’s timepieces incorporating this type of advanced technology or an on-trend model designed to cut it in the great outdoors, retailers would do well to investigate their options.

Sport is a national obsession; embrace it. 

Duraflex Group Australia

Friday, 03 April, 2020 12:45pm
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