The Chinese market is quickly proving to be a major boon for luxury automakers, none more so than BMW it seems, which has ranked first out of the top 100 most desired brands in China. According to a recent survey conducted by Hong Kong consultancy firm Clear Asia, BMW beat out the likes of Rolex and Apple in the glorified popularity contest.

BMW also beat out fellow automakers--and closest rivals--Mercedes-Benz and Audi, which ranked in eight and 12th spots respectively. According to researchers, the Bavarian automaker is seen as sexy, confident, exciting and sophisticated.

BMW is well aware of its strong presence in China. Not surprisingly, the automaker is thought to have skipped the recent 2011 Geneva Motor Show in favor of next month’s 2011 Shanghai Auto Show for the debut of a new M5 concept and 6-Series Coupe. Furthermore, BMW is also working with its Chinese partner Brilliance Auto to develop a new plug-in hybrid version of its 5-Series sedan, which is also expected to debut at the Shanghai event.

The latest Clear Asia survey was based on the results of more than 2,500 respondents. Interestingly, Clear Asia's parent company, Clear, conducted its own global version of the same survey and in that BMW came out third, behind Apple and Google.

[Automotive News, sub req’d]