Welcome back to an aBlogtoWatch original series, where we discuss important stores that sell watches all over the world. Each store we profile has an interesting story to tell about where they operate and who they sell to. Whether you buy watches from brick and mortar retailers or prefer to buy watches online, these are the stores that help shape our watch culture around the globe. There is a long list of stores to cover, but if there is a retail location in your favorite city that we simply can’t miss, let us know in the comments below. Here is a map of stores we have covered so far.
Where to buy watches in Melbourne, Australia?
Twenty years ago, Eric Van der Griend opened the first Watches of Switzerland boutique. However, he has been active in the Swiss watch market in Australia since 1982, first as an importer and wholesaler. Today, this family-owned and -operated (Eric is joined by Sam, Danielle, and Edward van der Griend) business operates in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, and Cairns.
aBlogtoWatch (ABTW): What types of watches are popular in your market? What makes Melbourne a unique place to buy watches?
Watches of Switzerland: Australia has traditionally been a market where sports watches have sold very well – we are an outdoors/casual culture. The past five to seven years has seen strong growth in the market and a progressive increase in the average price of watches sold. Brand awareness and interest in complications has been a key part of this growth.
ABTW: What would you tell watch lovers in other cities about the tastes of watch lovers in Melbourne?
Watches of Switzerland: Our most popular timepieces are certainly sport and dive watches that are versatile to wear to evening events and, indeed, to work. Panerai and IWC are very popular here. Our recent acquisition of the Rolex boutique on Collins street has seen very strong sales, particularly the Black Submariner and the Oyster Perpetual Day-Date. In Melbourne, we have two stores – one being a Rolex boutique – both located on Collins Street. In Sydney, our store is on George Street at the Four Seasons Hotel right beside iconic Circular Quay. Our Perth store is in the centre of the city on historic King Street where our neighbours are Tiffany, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada, Chanel, and Mui Mui. Cairns is in far north Queensland – the gateway to the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef and home to some amazing coral and fish species.
ABTW: Do you serve mostly locals or tourists, or is it a good mix? Also, what percentage of your customers would you call “knowledgeable watch collectors?”
Watches of Switzerland: Australia is an interesting watch destination – we tend to have new models soon after release and, with our proximity to Asia, a good allocation of hard-to-obtain pieces. We have a strong local clientele who are very aware of what is new and are avid readers of watch blogs, including our Watches of Switzerland blog. Social media, particularly Instagram, is a tool for learning and creates popularity and hype among watch enthusiasts – our Instagram following @watchesofswitzerland is growing week by week.
We also have a good mix of tourists in our business, although we tend to sell limited editions and complications to local clients. Sydney and Melbourne are interesting cities to visit – there are subtle differences in the two markets – the Sydney location has more tourist business as we are located in the Four Seasons Hotel near Circular Key and the historic Rocks precinct.
ABTW: What is Australia best known for? What do visitors have to do, see, or eat while there?
Watches of Switzerland: We often recommend visitors to Australia to mix their horological pursuits with a wine journey – as we are blessed with some truly outstanding wine regions – from the Hunter Valley, a few hours north of Sydney by road, to the Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsular, or Bellarine Peninsular, all within an hour of Melbourne.
If considering a visit to our western coast, the Margaret River wine region, three hours south of Perth, is also magnificent.
ABTW: As a business, do you sponsor or participate in any local events, watch-related or otherwise?
Watches of Switzerland: We have quite a few events where we take great pleasure in hosting our clients and friends. The next event on our calendar, in January 2016, is the Australian Open tennis grand slam followed by the inaugural Panerai Classic Yacht Challenge Cup to be sailed in Sorrento – an hour by road from Melbourne – on February 6. This event also has a strong PR and social media focus.
We also host clients at the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix in Melbourne in March.
ABTW: What are some of the watch brands you are known for carrying? If you could pick a watch brand or model that epitomizes the culture or style of Melbourne what would it be?
Watches of Switzerland: We have A. Lange & Söhne exclusively in Australia – Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth have corners in each store. We have a strong presence with Cartier, IWC, JLC, Piaget, Panerai, Hublot, and Breitling, amongst other brands. We find Rolex is a very popular brand in Australia – naturally, the professional series, although it is difficult to keep in stock as they are very strong sellers. watchswiss.com