If you thought Las Vegas, New York or London were really impressive from a watch shopping standpoint, wait till you read this article about Hong Kong, a city that here at WCL we can assertively name: "The watch shopping capital of the world." While Hong Kong is very impressive from many angles, the number of watch shops, watch authorized dealers and watch brand boutiques is simply massive and unlike any other city in the world. After our visit to Hong Kong, we can even venture to say that this city has more watch authorized dealers and watch shops than London, New York and Las Vegas combined. This is something that you can only understand if you are there and you stumble from one authorized dealer to another and another, in just one street block. To put things in perspective about how massive this city is Hong Kong ranks number one in terms of number of skyscrapers worldwide with double the number of skyscrapers of New York City, it is six times larger than Washington D.C. in terms of square miles and has more Rolls Royce cars per person than any other city in the world.
Whether you decide to stay at The Peninsula Hong Kong in the Kowloon area or on the south side of Victoria Harbour at the Mandarin Oriental or the Conrad Hotel in Hong Kong island, you'll sure have the time of your life shopping for watches here. Just a few steps around the corner from The Peninsula Hong Kong you will find Nathan Road, a very busy commercial street with way too many watch authorized dealers and watch boutiques that we can't even number. As you head north on Nathan Road you can walk for blocks and blocks with dozens of locations ran by LukFook Jewellery, Emperor Watch and Jewellery, Chow Tai Fook and Prince. On this street, you will also find Oriental Watch Co. one of Rolex and Tudor's oldest authorized dealers in Hong Kong.
While these top authorized dealers in Hong Kong pretty much control the watch market, they carry all major watch brands from the Swatch Group, Richemont Group, Rolex, Tudor, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, Franck Muller and Kering Group. Their presence is so impressive, that in a matter of a block or two, you will see no less than three Patek Philippe shop-in-shops, two Rolex stand alone boutiques and five to six authorized dealers carrying multiple brands; and just as if walking down the street and stumbling upon authorized dealer after authorized dealer wasn't enough, you can go inside vertical malls like iSquare or K11 to find more Chow Tai Fook and LukFook stores along with Omega brand boutiques, Seiko, Blancpain and Grand Seiko amongst others. Now, if you continue heading north on Nathan Road, you will get to the Mong Kok area where the smaller mom & pop watch shops and jewelers are located.
After shopping for hours if not a whole day and more, you can now head back to your hotel or Spring Restaurant at The Peninsula for a tasty dinner. Now, if you have high expectations for Peking Duck, Spring is not the right place as their Peking Duck is served Hong Kong style with an assortment of melon and red peppers in addition to the traditional cucumber and green onion julienne. Regardless, you'll have a great dinner with immaculate service to get you ready for day two and three of watch shopping in Hong Kong.
After a good night sleep fighting the jet lag, the next day you'll be heading west from The Peninsula towards the Star Ferry Pier where you take the ferry to the big island —as locals refer to Hong Kong island. Just about a block or two from The Peninsula, another big watch heaven will welcome you. Kitty-corner from the Shanghai Tang flagship boutique —make sure you go in and get a bottle of their Jade Dragon perfume—, you will find a Patek Philippe stand alone boutique as well as other brand boutiques operated by Prince and Emperor Jewellery that include A. Lange & Söhne, Breguet, Cartier, Chopard, IWC, Montblanc and Piaget amongst others and all within the 1881 Heritage shopping center right next to the UBS building located on One Peking Rd. At the UBS building, we recommend heading upstairs to Aqua for a delicious lunch or dinner with stunning views of Victoria Harbour and Hong Kong island.
Just as if all these boutiques weren't enough, a block north and west from that area, you will run into one of the most impressive Panerai boutiques we've ever been to with a huge outdoor Panerai clock. As you pass the Panerai boutique, prepare yourself to find a huge selection of more Rolex, Swatch Group and Richemont Group watch brand boutiques —even multiples of the same brand in one same mall— within the Harbor City mall that is adjacent to the Star Ferry terminal.
One great thing about the watch shops in Hong Kong is that most of them stay open late and close around 10 pm, especially in the Kowloon area. Something you will notice and which we absolutely loved, was the large number of Rolex clocks located outside the authorized dealers. These clocks in the shape of a lantern are rotating on their axis day and night as they mark the time outside Rolex boutiques operated by authorized dealers.
Continuing on the Kowloon side before heading to Hong Kong island, you need to visit Elements Mall no matter what. This mall adjacent to The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong and the Sky 100 Hong Kong Observation Deck is one of the most upscale and impressive malls we've ever been to and another watch shopping paradise while in Hong Kong. At this mall, you will find most of the Richemont Group brand boutiques, Audemars Piguet boutiques and a brand new Richard Mille boutique that just opened a few months ago.
If you still have energy and any money left and you're not fed up with the too many boutiques and authorized dealers, the best is yet to come. As you head to Hong Kong island on the Star Ferry or via the Metro to Hong Kong station or to Central station, another massive footprint of watch boutiques is awaiting for you.
As soon as you come out of the Central Pier or simply up the escalators at Hong Kong station the IFC —International Financial Center— Mall is awaiting. With every watch brand boutique you can imagine and Elegant Watches —authorized dealer carrying mainstream brands and independents like Greubel Forsey, MB&F and HYT amongst others— in there, this is one of our favorite malls due to the level of luxury and variety one can find, not to mention that not far from there one can experience the best Char Sui Bao in the world at the acclaimed and cheapest one-star Michelin rated restaurant Tim Ho Wan. Now, after you've done your rounds and checked every single watch boutique in the mall, make sure you head over to a small patisserie named Paul Lafayet Patisserie. There, you'll have one of the best Crème Brûlées you've ever had and which will recharge batteries with a perfectly torched hard caramel crust done on the spot.
As you decide to head east towards Statue Square and the HSBC main building, you'll find more watch boutiques right across the street south of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and also at Landmark Mall. Around here, you'll see a bunch of Panerai boutiques, Blancpain, Cartier and an Audemars Piguet boutique on the corner of Queen's Road Central and Pedder Street. If you walk down on Pedder Street, you'll come across the Pedder Building where The Lavish Attic is located. This authorized dealer specializes on independent brands like MCT, Linde Werdelin, Speake-Marin, Ressence, Urwerk and Titan Black amongst others. Hoping that by this time you'll feel a little thirsty, we recommend having a signature cocktail at MO Bar or at an exceptional Gin Bar named Dr. Fern —right by Louis Vuitton. Both bars are located at Landmark but on opposite sides of the mall.
Walking on either direction on Queen's Road Central will also provide great watch shopping. However, if you head northwest towards the Central-Mid-Levels Escalators, in that direction, you will find Carlson Watch Co. one of the oldest and most reputable Audemars Piguet authorized dealers in Hong Kong and where our Royal Oak Offshore ref. 25721ST 'The Beast' was originally sold. As you keep heading in that same direction and a just a couple of blocks up, if you make a left on Pottinger Street, you'll run into The Vintage Concept, one of the most reputable vintage watch dealers in Hong Kong. While their selection of vintage Rolex watches is simply one of the best out there, we can't say the same about the service or knowledge of their staff, additionally, their prices are up the roof; therefore, better to shop for vintage locally in the U.S. or in the U.K.
Lastly, two other malls you need to stop by are the ultra-luxurious Pacific Place and Times Square. Pacific Place is a 4-level mall located by the Conrad Hotel and the JW Marriott Hong Kong offering yet another ultimate luxury watch shopping experience. While you're there, make sure you stop by Peking Garden a one-star Michelin rated restaurant where you'll have a great dining experience and one of the best Peking Ducks just as good as if you were in Beijing.
If Hong Kong wasn't in your short list of places to visit, we bet that after reading this watch shopping guide, it is now a 'must visit' destination. Hong Kong not only offers a very impressive number of points of sale for luxury watches but also unparalleled inventory when it comes to those special watches from Audemars Piguet, Rolex, Panerai or Patek Philippe that you can't find elsewhere. A perfect example of this where the numerous Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Extra-Thin ref. 15202OR in 18K rose gold like ours or the Patek Philippe Nautilus ref. 5711s sitting on the cases of the ADs in Hong Kong. Since you can't find any of them here in the U.S., it was very shocking to see so many of them readily available in Hong Kong.
Now, as far as discounts goes, be prepared to get at least a 15% off as soon as you walk in the door into any of these authorized dealers as they are hugely overstocked. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case on Patek Philippe or Audemars Piguet watches. However, for almost everything else, you can fight for a discount and get away with it. In terms of pricing, expect to pay 10-15% more on the MSRP.
To wrap up, Hong Kong is really the watch shopping capital of the world and a place like no other. If you were wondering why the watch industry is hurting so bad in Asia, look no further. Hong Kong is the perfect example of what not to do when it comes to how many authorized dealers and brand boutiques a watch brand should keep per market. Stumbling upon two and sometime up to three brand boutiques of the exact same brand in one mall is definitely not a healthy business practice and one that has led the industry to where it is today. Additionally, the aggressive discounts offered by these ADs are the fuel that keeps grey watch dealers running. Without a doubt, Hong Kong is a place where luxury is at the tip of your fingers but a place where only the affluent can really play. We can't remember when was the last time that we saw so many APs, Rolexes and Langes on the wrists of people just walking down the streets.