“Gujarat Contributes To 8% Of India’s GDP”, Says Retailer Supal Doshi Of Luxury Time

“Gujarat Contributes To 8% Of India’s GDP”, Says Retailer Supal Doshi Of Luxury Time

THM Desk
1 Mar 2024 |
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The increasing number of HNIs, growing culture of bespoke personalization, and wider availability of international brands has fueled the aspirations and opened new avenues for the luxury watch industry in Gujarat. As tastes mature and awareness increases, the market is primed for strong multi-brand growth in this category. Amplifying this is retailer Luxury Time & Golden Time. With about 7 retail stores in Gujarat, they cater to the discerning clientele.

We caught up with the owner Mr. Supal Doshi to discuss the evolution of Luxury Time, retail expansion and more!

THM: What is the luxury watch market like in Gujarat? Tell us about Luxury Time & Golden Time?

Supal: Gujarat is a state where everyone knows how things work. The government wants everything on a grand scale here. They wanted the world's largest monuments and attractions, making it one of the biggest markets. If you look at India's GDP history, 8% of taxes and revenue comes from Gujarat. What the state got in the past 70 years is only about 6-7%. Past governments have not favored the state much.


The current leadership noticed this and is trying to give back what Gujarat deserved but was denied. Most political houses and businessmen that run the country have a business-oriented mindset and attitude. This is why they have succeeded in Gujarat. Gujarat's success stems from diamonds, clothing, industries carried forward by the likes of Lalbhai, Hatti Singh, and Sarabhai. We were once Manchester of the East. We are just reclaiming our rightful place in history.

As a market, Gujarat did not evolve much because native Gujaratis are very grounded people. They like close-knit environments and modest lifestyles. The new influx of people from different parts, trying to settle and make a name here, is changing the state's vibrancy. While original Ahmedabad and Gujarat people maintain simplicity, these newcomers are altering what Gujarat needs.

THM: Have you successfully educated the customers in Gujarat about luxury watches?

Supal: Most Gujaratis here, don’t know much about luxury watch brands. However, they hear fancy names dropped by friends who have seen collections in Mumbai and Delhi. Out of curiosity and to keep up with trends, they want to explore these brands too.

Gujaratis often lack a deeper understanding of the watches - they just know basic details passed on through word of mouth. However, the brands we have introduced have done well over the years because we educate buyers. We provide the backstory and guide them, not just sell to them transactionally. This mentorship approach across three generations has built our legacy.

As Golden Time, we straddle mass and luxury segments. We are a mass-oriented brand with a touch of luxury. Luxury Time deals only in pure luxury brands - Rolex, Hublot, Breitling. That store runs solely by appointment. We even provide Mercedes transfers to transport customers and deliver exceptional service.

THM: What is the brand that is most in demand right now?

Supal: Of course, Rolex is the most loved luxury watch brand amongst our customers. Its reputation precedes it. That said, we also see demand for Audemars Piguet, Vacheron Constantin, Cartier - but Rolex occupies a league of its own.

Preferences vary depending on the purpose. If it's a once-in-a-lifetime personal purchase or a gift for a spouse/child, choices differ. Overall though, our clients are more travelers and businessmen, for whom Rolex resonates strongly.


As for models, steel and steel+gold enjoy equal popularity. However, Jubilee bracelet versions sell more than Oyster bracelets. I'd estimate a 60-40 split favoring steel and gold. Gujaratis tend to prefer flashes of gold as they usually dress simple, without much flair. Our weather doesn't warrant seasonal attire changes. Gold provides that extra touch despite their basic clothing. Sometimes they even just opt for plain gold models.

THM: The gifting culture in Gujarat is quite prominent. Which brand do people often opt for?

Supal: The first brand that comes to mind for brides, grooms, and middle-class buyers is undoubtedly Rado. More established individuals would gravitate towards Rolex, but they understand waiting periods and are selective about purchases. We cannot hand out pieces freely like a sweet box.

Before selling high-end watches, we deeply assess buyers - their preferences, needs, and purpose - along with speaking to anyone gifting. We emphasize that gifting obligations don't apply to us. The recipient must share in the journey and decision-making, not receive products randomly.

Beyond Rado, Montblanc also sells very well. We've retailed Momblang for over 25 years now - one of our longest associations. Though we started with a small shop, Montblanc performs extremely well. Overall, we have 7 retail shops, the newest spanning over 500 sq ft - more like a shop-n-shop.


THM: Do customers often come with customisation requests? What is the approach then?

Supal: Customization is definitely a popular trend that people are looking for these days. We understand the desire for unique, personalized watches, but don't recommend opening up and modifying the brands we carry, as it can void the warranty. While customization is available, especially abroad, we try to discourage tampering with our products. However, we recognize it's an appealing option and can't control what customers ultimately choose to do. The customization craze is growing, with many places in Europe, the UK, US, Australia, and the Middle East going crazy over it. We aim to provide excellent customer service regardless of if someone wants to customize within warranty guidelines or not. The future seems to hold more and more customization across industries. We strive to meet customer demand while maintaining our standards.

THM: But what happens when a customer comes requesting a brand that is not available at your store?

Supal: Retailers across India are facing similar challenges with customs regulations and government oversight. Rather than trying to find workarounds, we should be upfront and guide customers to compliant options. As retailers, we don't want issues with authorities - it's best to operate legally and focus on quality service. We're blessed to have multi-generational success in this industry, even though the landscape today looks very different than in the past. Now we must adapt by patiently showcasing products and building customer relationships.

We've matured as an industry and prefer operating legitimately, not cutting corners. The government is strict for good reason - to ensure fair practices and tax compliance. By following the rules, retailers avoid penalties and reputational damage. We've seen many who tried shortcuts, got into trouble, and regretted it deeply. Let's continue on the right path, valuing our hard-earned reputation and investing in sustainable growth. While the context has changed, by evolving our approach with integrity, retailers can still prosper in this new era.


THM: Do you think other brands see Gujarat as a potential market?

Supal: It seems like high-end luxury brands prefer to open stores in locations that can support the ambience and experience they aim to create. They want a critical mass of sales to justify carrying extensive collections, which may not be possible in smaller markets.

Even if exhibitions or pop-ups can drive initial interest, these brands rely on maintaining a consistent upscale atmosphere that keeps customers coming back. People are often willing to travel further to shop at an established luxury destination with multiple brands and options to browse. Richemont brands wouldn’t sustain in Gujarat because they don’t have the right ambience for it here.

As cities like Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, and Udaipur grow, they may attract luxury retailers if they can deliver the right environment and visitor demographics. But it takes time to develop that ecosystem. Brands are confidential in their expansion plans, but look for locations popular with high-end travelers from across the globe.

Places like Jaipur and Udaipur that already draw international tourists could potentially accommodate luxury stores. There are also untapped opportunities in smaller cities with historic character. As Varanasi demonstrates, some unlikely locations see huge visitor volumes that rival top global destinations.


The key is creating a memorable experience that makes customers want to return, while ensuring the sales to sustain extensive, exclusive collections. With strategic development, more cities in India could fit that criteria in the future. But it's an organic process that requires careful nurturing of the overall luxury retail environment.

THM: Is the pre-owned market growing in Gujarat?

Supal: People in Gujarat are traditional and superstitious, preferring to avoid inauspicious associations. So the luxury market there may be slower to embrace pre-owned compared to other regions. However, some progressive customers are open to it.

The preference is still for buying directly in-store, where people can see and try on pieces, rather than waiting for delivery. Instant gratification is important today. But weekend trips to shop in luxury hubs or while traveling abroad are also popular.

The key is nurturing trusted relationships between retailers and customers built over time. People value the expertise and service that local jewelers provide. They may not feel as comfortable buying remotely, whether from other cities or overseas.

There are always risks buying luxury unseen. So many still rely on their local contacts who understand preferences and source the right items. Customers here seem to prefer developing long-term bonds versus transactional interactions.

Like a trusted barber, jewelers in Gujarat often become confidants, guiding customers over years or generations. While immediacy and convenience will grow in appeal, personal service and connections will likely remain paramount. Adapting judiciously to new models while retaining core strengths is key.

THM: Many brands are doing boutique editions with retailers. Is there something in the pipeline for Luxury Time?

Supal: Depends if there is a story behind it. There is potential for carrying a particular watch if it sells well. We would only go down that path if there was significant demand. Currently we are not leaning in that direction. However, it's something we are open to exploring. Offering customers more variety generally makes more sense than focusing on just one product line. Scalability through multi-brand stores in a large format could work if we end up with 5-6 locations and establish ourselves.

Luxury watches are definitely an area we want to expand - we have two such boutiques in the pipeline to open this year. We already have around 9 gold watch stores and 10 service centers. Beyond watches, we have 3 clock stores, 1 handbag store, and 1 eyewear store. We're opening 2 additional eyewear and handbag stores this year as well. We also have a Swarovski boutique with an attached gift shop. And we plan to open more Montblanc shops and boutiques. So there are a lot of exciting retail expansions in progress, depending on finding the right locations and spaces. Overall opening multi-brand stores likely makes the most sense versus single brand boutiques.

With several boutiques coming up in the next months, Luxury Time is set to grow the luxury watch market in Gujarat and offer the consumers a story behind every watch.