Bidding GoodBye to 2018

And so, it's finally time to bid goodbye to 2018. Every year, the month of December, arrives like a mixture of opposites and a bundle of contradictions. On the one hand, there is the feeling of pathos, because a journey is coming to its end. On the other, it's time to rejoice, because a new journey is about to begin, a journey literally into the unknown, a journey loaded with aspirations and dreams of all that one hopes and longs for. The year 2018 began with the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie 2018 (SIHH) held in Geneva at the very start of this calendar year. This was followed by the India International Watch & Clock Fair - Samaya Bharati, held at the end of January 2018, followed soon by Baselworld 2018 and culminating towards the end with the Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair 2018, held in the first week of September. If we are to look at the year just gone by, it was a year of ups and downs. While yes, there were moments of joy and happiness, there were the others too, which were laden with some disappointments. While the SIHH went off successfully, the Samaya Bharati in India did quite well and Baselworld too, for that matter did fairly satisfactoy business, the Hong Kong Watch & Clock Fair 2018 also bustled . However, subsequent news of some age-old clientele of SIHH and Baselworld declaring their intention not to participate either in 2019 (some of them) or from 2020 onwards (some others) was received with a dampening effect. The reasons are different. As far as SIHH is concerned, while in one case, the business model is changing, in the other, the brand’s presence at exhibitions no longer corresponds to its strategy for exclusive and selective distribution, due to which, it was now prioritizing monobrand boutiques instead. In the third case, the decision of this particular brand to leave Baselworld was reinforced by Swatch Group's decision to pull out in July, as since it worked in a competitive environment with a few of the Swatch Group brand's, it was not so sure now, if distributors would still continue to come to Baselworld as before, if those brands are no longer present. However, in a striking contrast, the two eminent and hugely patronised Swiss Fairs feel differently, as they are fairly certain, that their business will continue unaffected and that they will in fact continue to pursue and achieve their respective goals successfully. In any case, how the future unfolds, is anybody's guess and yet to be seen, and therefore, it would be too premature at this stage, to arrive at any concrete conclusions. Now, if we look back in retrospect, particularly at how the calendar year 2018 went by for horological businesses in India starting from January, the following happenings need strong mention: January saw the launch of Titan 'WE' the smartwatch designed especially for 'Her,' brand Aspen launched 'Aura' for Women and brand Escort introduced its Diva's watch collection. In February, Time Avenue, the luxury watch retailer at Bandra completed two decades, while Titan, Timex and KDDL, all the three, reported appreciable growth and good profits in Quarter 3 of fiscal 2017-2018, ended on 31-12-2017. In March, Craig Shelly Beverly Hills, announced its entry into India as also Fitbit, which launched its smartwatch in India. The month, also saw the launch of Tissot's new boutique at the Palladium, Mumbai with its brand ambassador Virat Kohli. The month of April, witnessed the introduction of its Automatic watch series by Timex. In May, Apple Watch Series 3 Cellular edition was finally available for purchase in India, from May 11, 2018 and onwards, a week after Airtel and Jio announced pre-bookings of the wearable in the country. In June, we covered the financial results for Fiscal 2017-2018 of Titan, Timex and KDDL, with all the three companies having reported an improved performance and growth as on 31-03-2018. The month of July saw the unveiling of FRIA, the new Women's watch range by Timex, while Salvatore Ferragamo, Versace and Versus introduced their new Spring/Summer 2018 collections. In August, Luminox, the iconic adventure sports watch brand from Switzerland announced its entry into the Indian market, while Nebula, the premium brand of gold watches from Titan, unveiled Nazakat, a bespoke edition of alluring watches for brides-to-be and their families. The month was however drowned into sorrow, by the news about the passing away of Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the Former Prime Minister of India. The month of September again dealt a heavy blow to the horological industy of India, as news came in that Pravin Gandhi of Cony Bands / P.G. Industries passed away, and in his departure for his heavenly abode, India sadly lost a truly great watch strap doyen. In October, brand Maxima took its prime dealers on a fun-n-frolic trip of Dubai, having already taken another lot of its performing dealers just a while earlier to Thailand. The trip was organised in acknowledgement and due appreciation of their individual and collective performances in the past year. On the other hand, brand Logues, held the Dealer Meet 2018 for its dealers from Madhya Pradesh at Indore, which was attended by around 80 dealers. In November, news came in from Titan, Timex and KDDL, that all these three Indian companies had completed a satisfying half year and Quarter 2 of the current Fiscal ended on 30-09-2018, having performed well and grown over the same period of last year. In the meantime, the Festival of Diwali, was celebrated with great fanfare by the Delhi Watch Material Dealer’s Association as well as the Watch Trade Federation, Mumbai, two important events, celebrated in the two metros respectively, which brought the entire horological trade fraternity, to spend an evening of fun and enjoyment, together. A Tour to foreign destinations was also organised during the year by Seiko for its star performers, while Citizen hosted a media tour for its Asian Media representatives to its facilities in Japan. In the 150th year of the Tata group, three independently written books on the group — ‘The Tata Group: From torchbearers to trailblazers’, ‘The Tata Saga’ and ‘Titan: Inside India’s Most Successful Consumer Brand’ — featuring interesting insights, case studies and success stories as also challenges faced by the group, were launched this November 17 at the 9th edition of Tata Literature Live! at the National Centre of the Performing Arts (NCPA), in Mumbai. Meanwhile, moving away from the horological industry scenario, while GST collection was good even though it registered a shortfall , the situation across the year in the country though remained somewhat fluid, due to the continuing and non-stop surge in fuel prices coupled with the uncertainty of the rupee value escalating versus the US dollar, which had a direct and cascading effect on day-to-day prices of essential commodities becoming more expensive as well as consumer spending of disposable income, which consequently dipped. However, now and more recently, with fuel prices stabilising to some extent and the rupee also getting slightly stronger, hopes are that the overall economic situation will improve. As such, while December is yet to end shortly and along with it, the Gregorian Calendar Year 2018, as well as both Christmas and New Year celebrations Waiting in the Wings, the mood in general seems to be one of optimism, that the New Year 2019, will hopefully not only be better than this year, but a happier and healthier one for all. With these words, Trade Post wishes all its readers A Merry Christmas and A Very Happy and Prosperous New Year Twenty Nineteen!

Mihir Kharod