Although modern gadgets such as smartphones have made wristwatches almost redundant for timekeeping in the 21st century, the demand for high- and low-end wristwatches continues to grow in the country, driven by choice, need and latest fashion trends.
Shop owners say most young people go for colourful wristwatches, which are water-resistant, shockproof, and include GPS sensors and hiking tools, while middle-aged to aged customers opt for elegant and long-lasting timepieces.
According to the National Board of Revenue (NBR), a total of 12,86,260 wristwatches worth Tk 28.16 crore entered Bangladesh legally from various countries in the last two fiscal years.
Time Zone, Mohammad and Sons (M&S), and Watches Worlds are among the largest distributors of world-renowned wristwatch brands in Bangladesh.
Time Zone imports Seiko (Japan), Cellox and Credence (UK), Casio (Japan), Esprit (US),
Citizen (Japan), Cairnhill, Romanson (Switzerland), among others. Mohammad and Sons (M&S) imports 11 wristwatch brands, such as Tag Heuer, Oris, Victorinox, Aviator, Alpina, Zenith, Montblanc, Movado, Frederique Constant and Zeppelin (Germany), Nordgreen (Denmark).
According to Mohammad and Sons, they have watches worth around Tk 1 crore in their collection.
Watches Worlds Limited imports Fossil (USA), Diesel (Italy), Casio, Police (Italy), Michael Kors (USA), Emporio Armani (Italy), Boss (Germany), Ferrari (Italy), Deniel Klein (Turkey), among others.
Habibullah, service in-charge of Watches Worlds Limited at Basundhara City Shopping Mall, said, “Those who are stylish, fashionable and health-conscious are using wristwatches. So, globally the wristwatch market has been growing and international brands provide worldwide warranty or guarantee facilities.”
According to Watches World, Fossil has been the top brand among the youth, as the watches of this brand are colourful, long-lasting, water-resistant, its price ranges from Tk 10,000 to Tk 2,50,000. Senior citizens prefer Emporio Armani watches.
Talking to The Business Post, Golam Rasul, a private job holder, said, “I love wristwatches, especially the Montex brand. Although I have a smartphone to check time, I wear an original Montex wristwatch, which I bought three years ago for Tk 8,000 because it compliments my lifestyle.”
With technological advancement, many modern wristwatches now come with various built-in features such as bluetooth or internet connectivity, heart rate monitors, pedometers, physical activity trackers, blood pressure monitors and sleep monitors.
According to the Market Watch 2021, the global wristwatch market was worth $50.47 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach $72.81 billion by 2025, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.3 per cent during 2021-2025.
Talking to The Business Post, Khulna-4 lawmaker and Exporters Association of Bangladesh President Abdus Salam Murshedy said, “Although modern electronic devices have replaced the necessity of wristwatches, their demand prevails among fashion-conscious people. Now, companies are producing watches with attractive designs. As the country’s economy continues to grow, people can now purchase fashionable wristwatches according to their purchasing capability.”
In recent years, the country has been witnessing a massive influx of replicas and budget timepieces, mainly from China and India, to cater to the demands of fashion-conscious people.
Talking to The Business Post, shop owners at the country’s largest wholesale watch market Patuatuli, and New Market in Dhaka said that as most people cannot buy original Swiss or French wristwatches due to financial constraints, most of them turn to replicas or Chinese or Indian brands costing between in Tk 200 to Tk 5,000 to fulfil their desire to own a stylish wristwatch.
“Chinese watches are fashionable and come with multiple functions at low prices. They mainly attract most customers on online platforms,” said Tanha BD owner Monirul Islam, who sells wristwatches on an e-commerce site. Sabiha Afrin Mim, a graphics design student, said she and her friends go for wristwatches worth around Tk 400 to Tk 500.
“In my opinion, it adds beauty to my outlook. That’s why it has become a part of my daily life,” she added.
However, Bangladesh Watch Merchant Association (BGBS) has raised concerns over the influx of smuggled and replica wristwatches.
Luxury wristwatch importers and sellers said that it has become hard for consumers to identify genuine products due to the heavy presence of smuggled and replica wristwatches in the local market. According to BGBS, around 80 per cent of wristwatches are brought in illegally.
Most of these smuggled and replica wristwatches enter the country through passengers’ luggage and turn out to be far cheaper than genuine ones due to import duty evasion.
Safayet Chowdhury, general manager of Mohammad and Sons, said, “The young generation prefers watches as per the global fashion, so the wristwatch market has a bright future in Bangladesh. This trend is a good sign for merchants but the major obstacle is the influx of replica wristwatches from China. These products are also cheating customers.”
The association also estimated that 25,000-30,000 people are involved with the illegal import, and some 10,000 shops and uncountable footpath shops sell these counterfeit watches across the country.
Mohammad Asaduzzaman Ripon, the Bangladesh Watch Merchant Association president, told The Business Post, “The wristwatch market continues to expand in Bangladesh. It’s a great opportunity for us. However, some businesses were forced to quit due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The government should have provided them with incentives such as easy loans to help them sustain in this rising sector.”
State of local manufacturing
“CITISUN” has been the leading wall & table clock brand in the market of Bangladesh since 1986. Citysun Watch Company Limited is exporting its products.
According to Bangladesh Watch Merchant Association, there are about 10 companies that manufacture table and wall clocks in Bangladesh.
These companies only manufacture frames of wall and table clocks and assemble other parts brought from abroad.
They cannot manufacture wristwatches or assemble them due to a lack of highly skilled technicians and investment. But neighbouring India and China are producing low-cost products.
Industry insiders said several companies are attaching the ‘made in Bangladesh’ logo on imported Chinese and Indian wristwatches. Merchants say Indian brands such as Titan, Ajanta, Indiana and Chinese Moon Star, Sun Star are the most popular watches in Bangladesh.