Ethos is the powerhouse fueling India’s growth in the watch market
Watch retailer Ethos paves the way as India emerges as the next frontier for watch market growth.
In the world of watch collecting, talk of India’s increasing sophistication echoes loud. It’s not just the burgeoning interest in watches or their progressively deepening pockets that garners attention, but the profound depth of appreciation.
A clear sign of maturity is their relish for independent watchmaking. It signifies that Indian collectors, increasingly, are pursuing watches not just as symbols of professional achievement or pieces of investment, but also as fine works of art.
At the forefront of this transformative tide reigns the immensely influential retailer, Ethos, which has virtually crafted and molded the luxury watch industry from scratch in the world’s most populous country.
Before 1997, India had enforced a prolonged ban on watch imports to protect the domestic watch industry. As a result, those seeking foreign watches had to purchase them abroad or even engage with smugglers.
Ethos was founded in 2003 by Chandigarh-based entrepreneur Yashovardhan Saboo, following the Indian government’s decision to permit the import of high value watches on a large scale. Ethos established itself as a key player in this newly opened market, with brands willingly accommodating the high import tariffs by exporting to India at reduced prices, a move aimed at curbing the well-entrenched illegal practice of smuggling in the country by ensuring their watches are priced on par with the global market.
In 2022, Ethos became the first luxury watch retailer in India to be publicly listed.
Ethos’ strategic expansion
Today, Ethos has the largest portfolio of brands in India, with over 60 watch brands spanning Seiko to Urwerk, of which over 45 are exclusively available at Ethos. Operating in more than 60 stores encompassing both multi- and mono-brand boutiques spread across 23 cities in India, the retailer has played a pivotal role in cultivating a watch culture, as well as shaping the tastes and preferences of the public in an impressive and undeniable way.
The retailer strategically enters even smaller yet crucial Indian cities like Raipur and Siliguri, with the aim of tapping into emerging market potential and growing consumer interest in luxury items in these vital urban centers. But its job is not done. Ethos is set to unveil an additional 30 to 35 stores across new and existing cities as part of its rapid-fire, but thoughtful, expansion stride in the coming years.
This expansion spree is well-founded and propelled by several factors. To begin with, there’s a rapid ascent in wealth and income levels among the upper echelons of Indian society.
This shift in the economic landscape has created a burgeoning market for luxury goods, including watches, encouraging Ethos to cater to the growing demands of this prosperous clientele.
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Secondly, there is a noticeable trend among consumers who now recognize the benefits of purchasing watches within India. This change in perception is primarily due to the comparable pricing and extensive variety of watches available, aligning the Indian market more closely with the offerings of other global cities.
Furthermore, the added advantage of local after-sales services has become a significant factor influencing consumer choices. In 2019, Ethos opened its state-of-the-art service center in Saket, New Delhi, which boasts a team of engineers who possess the capability to service all brands in its diverse portfolio on-site.
Saboo points out, “We engage professionally qualified watchmakers with experience and they are further trained by our partner brands. As for spare watch components, we procure them from the brand that we have been authorised to service.”
Enhanced shopping experience
In response to the evolving consumer habits that were only accelerated by the pandemic, Ethos has continuously and strategically strengthened its digital presence. This proactive approach allows the company to provide customers with an immersive and simply outstanding online experience.
Ethos’ website stands out for its exceptional comprehensiveness, sophistication, and user-friendly interface. Apart from displaying its entire catalog of watches, the website offers an advanced watch finder, enabling users to effortlessly explore the extensive range of choices available.
This feature facilitates a seamless and tailored shopping experience, catering to the diverse preferences of customers.
In addition, Ethos also recognizes the importance of exposition and education. The website hosts an extensive watch journal, The Watch Guide, which serves as a valuable resource for watch enthusiasts, encompassing a variety of content, including news, reviews, interviews, and a watch glossary.
In fact, a swift perusal of its website hints at one undeniable truth: it is possibly the best multi-brand retailer website in the industry.
At the same time, as the pre-owned market came of age during the pandemic, Ethos swiftly embraced it with a new venture, Second Movement. The standalone brand consists of a high -functioning online marketplace that offers a secure channel for the selling, buying, and trading of pre-owned watches.
It is supported by a brick-and-mortar Second Movement boutique located in New Delhi, which is home to the largest range of pre-owned watches in India.
Today, Ethos continues to nurture a vibrant watch community through frequent event hosting, fostering a culture that deeply appreciates the art of watchmaking. It also facilitates the development of exclusive limited- edition watches, exclusively available at Ethos, for the Indian market, demonstrating its role in building a sense of connection and appreciation between the brand and the collector, thereby enriching the overall watch-collecting experience in India.
The Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG), often referred to as the Oscars of the watch world, stands as one of the most prestigious events in the watch industry. In the 2022 edition, Ethos founder and chairman, Yashovardhan Saboo, was a part of the GPHG jury, making him the first Indian to join this esteemed panel.
Concurrently, his son, Pranav, who is CEO of Ethos, holds a membership in the academy. Ethos also achieved a significant milestone by hosting the GPHG travelling exhibition in New Delhi for the first time in 2014 and again in 2022, showcasing the epitome of watchmaking excellence.
At the end of it all, it is impossible not to come away with the conclusion that, unlike the average retailer, Ethos possesses both the guts and smarts — an unstoppable drive coupled with an astute, completist approach — that has steered not just the company, but also India to new heights in the horological world.
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From the Shop
|Manual winding Sellita caliber AMT5100, with rose gold plating and custom bridge for Furlan Marri; 58-hour power reserve; heated blued steel screws
|Hours, minutes, small seconds and flyback chronograph
|38mm (46mm from lug to lug); stainless steel with olive-shaped pushers for Honey Blue flyback, Taupe flyback and Tasti Tondi pushers for Salmon flyback; water resistant to 50m
|Taupe, blue, or two-tone salmon and black (Revolution edition); double printed text with pulsations scale, polished applied indexes
|Italian leather with quick release system
|270 pieces per reference + 30 collector boxes (including one of each references) in addition.