Slipping a luxury watch on your wrist might not be as expensive as you think. Downloading one for free is the newest idea.
Mr. Park, a 29-year-old office worker, wears a watch with a Rolex dial one day and a Cartier dial the next. He didn’t buy the high-end watches, but simply personalized the face of his Apple Watch. When Park wears formal office attire to work, he changes the Apple Watch to look like Rolex’s Jubilee. A watch face that resembles an electronic Casio is her choice for casual jogging outdoors.
âI feel like I have dozens of watches to choose from every day,â Park said. âIt’s fun turning my smartwatch into an entirely different-looking product with just a few clicks, and it almost looks like a scene from a sci-fi movie. ”
Some 912,000 smartwatches were sold in Korea last year, according to market research firm Euromonitor, up 3.6% year on year. With a lot of people owning the same electronic gadgets, people in their 20s and 30s are finding ways to stand out from the crowd.
Smartwatch makers like Samsung and Apple offer a selection of default watch faces to their customers, but users want to give their smartwatches a more personalized fit.
Watch interface customization apps such as Clockology are growing in popularity. According to mobile app tracker App Annie, the app ranked # 1 in the Graphics & Design category of the Korean App Store in terms of downloads since July 16, only briefly dropping to # 2 on July 27 before quickly regaining first place the next day.
Users can create their own watch face designs or upload those that others have created and posted online. Just about any high-end watch face can be found online, ranging from some resembling Patek Philippe, Rolex and Cartier to designs with the logos of famous fashion houses such as Gucci and Louis Vuitton.
Some might call it all a bit pretentious, but Suh Yong-gu, a business professor at Sookmyung Women’s University, disagrees. A Rolex dial on an Apple Watch is obviously fake, and young Koreans are just trying to have fun and find unique ways to personalize a product out of the box.
âYoung people are stressed out by gender conflicts, unemployment and the pandemic, and they tend to buy things that have an element of comedy to enjoy a light laugh,â said Suh. “They’re not trying to make it look like they’re wearing fake luxury watches because of an inferiority complex about not being able to afford one, but they’re just trying to joke that an Apple Watch cannot be different from a high-end watch worth tens of millions of won.
While downloading these watch faces is free, changing watch straps or purchasing other accessories is not. But many are still willing to take it.
Apple has a collaboration with Hermes, offering a variety of Hermes leather and textile watch straps. Bracelets sell for between 500,000 and 700,000 won ($ 400-600), while other silicone and leather bracelets sell for around 100,000 won. Damiani, an Italian high-end jewelry company, sells diamond-encrusted Apple Watch cases for 9.6 million won.
Those who want variety at a cheaper price turn to online shopping, buy smart watch straps wholesale and choose a new one every day according to their mood or fashion.
âBuying expensive accessories every time is too much – once you start collecting smartwatch bracelets, you’re going to buy more than three or four,â said Ms. Jung, a 27-year-old student. “On AliExpress, you can buy a leather strap for a few thousand won, so I often order more than 10 at a time.”
BY BAE JUNG-WON, LEE TAE-HEE [[email protected]]