A detail of the DFS Masters of Time 10th anniversary exhibition that was unveiled in Macau in December 2018.

 SYDNEY — DFS is taking its Masters of Time fine watch and jewelry exhibition on the road.

After the show’s 10th anniversary edition bowed in Macau in December, a curated version traveled to Honolulu in January and from May 24 to July 31, a similar version will run at the DFS T Galleria flagship in George Street, Sydney.

While 450 pieces from 30 brands appeared in the Macau exhibition, the Masters of Time x Sydney collection will feature more than 100 fine watches and jewelry pieces from 15 brands, valued at above 8.7 million Australian dollars, or $6 million at current exchange.

The show includes more than 80 rare and exclusive timepieces such as the Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Grandes Complication valued at $477,000 and the 365,000 Australian dollar Jaeger-LeCoultre Rendez-Vous Secret, the most expensive women’s piece.

“Each year I see an escalation in rarity and exclusiveness within DFS’ acquisition of bespoke or collectable timepieces — some of the pieces you will see here are already sold out elsewhere in the world,” said Hong Kong watch expert Carson Chan, the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie’s head of mission for Greater China, who has traveled to Sydney with DFS for the exhibition.

A detail of the DFS Masters of Time 10th anniversary exhibition that was unveiled in Macau in December 2018. 

At WWD’s 2018 Beauty CEO Summit, Ariel Gentzbourger, DFS Group Ltd.’s executive vice president, global merchandising told the audience that 70 percent of the DFS business is coming from mainland Chinese.

Although DFS declined to discuss the breakdown of its Oceania customer base, the choice of Sydney as one of only a handful of international locations for the Masters of Time show speaks to the growing importance of the Australian luxury market.

In recent years, the latter has witnessed unprecedented growth, buoyed not only by record tourism and international student numbers, but property and stock market gains for the local customer base. The latter includes a significant Chinese resident population.

According to the 2018 Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report, Australians now boast the world’s highest household wealth, with a median wealth of $191,453, although this is likely to be dampened in 2019 due to a softening property market.

According to IbisWorld’s 2018 Luxury Retailing report, industry revenues in Australia are expected to grow by an annualized 9.1 percent over the five years through 2018-19 to reach 2.2 billion Australian dollars, or $1.5 billion, with international — notably Chinese — tourists accounting for as much as 30 percent of sales.

Tourists are expected to help buoy a further 7.6 percent annualized market growth through 2023-24, to reach 3.2 billion Australian dollars, or $2.2 billion.

Anecdotally, some industry figures have speculated that Chinese tourists and students could account for as much as 60 percent to 80 percent of Australian luxury sales.

Premium watch brands have been among a slew of international luxury players to arrive in Australia since 2011, opening stores in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane — with a number of longer established brands increasing the size of their flagships.

“The Australian market is mature in terms of knowledge and stability, where its consumers continue to invest in timepieces and building their collection” said Alexandre Xavier-Bender, global merchandise manager Watches for DFS Group. “The consumer is sophisticated and always looking for pieces that are exceptional and that can only be found at DFS. With that in mind, it is essential for us to consolidate our footprint within the Australian region.”

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