Many (or all) consumers complain in watch forums that watches are overpriced. Even watch enthusiasts complain that prices are higher than ever. If watch sales are down for the past 2 years, why don’t the watch companies simply lower their prices? Don’t the laws of supply and demand suggest that when sales are down, prices will fall as well? Here is why watch prices are unlikely to decrease anytime soon.
The Swiss Watch Industry at the precipice…PART 2. The laws in Switzerland used to only require a watch be 50% made in Switzerland. As of 2017, that has been increased to 60% with much controversy and criticism over whether that is the best move for the watch industry. This is a fictional narrative that will be published in two parts that outline the issues surrounding the decision. While the characters are real, this story fictionalizes their role in an otherwise real world scenario using real world facts. Enjoy this case study-style narrative discussing the difficult decisions regarding the increases to the requirements to call something “Swiss Made”.
The laws in Switzerland used to only require a watch be 50% made in Switzerland. As of 2017, that has been increased to 60% with much controversy and criticism over whether that is the best move for the watch industry. This is a fictional narrative that will be published in two parts that outline the issues surrounding the decision. While the characters are real, this story fictionalizes their role in an otherwise real world scenario using real world facts. Enjoy this case study-style narrative discussing the difficult decisions regarding the increases to the requirements to call something “Swiss Made”.
Forbes has announced its latest list of the most reputable companies in the World and Rolex sits at the top.
How did watch prices get so high? The number one response from watch enthusiasts seems to be “greed” – though “maximizing profits” would be the politer way to say it. Looking at the recent history of watch industry growth, I don’t see evidence for pure greed. Instead, I see companies investing in what seemed to them (at the time) like sustained and unrelenting growth between 2005 and 2015. In this article, I will walk you through the increases in watch prices and why they have gone up faster than the rate of inflation. In the next article, I will explain why all of the sudden people aren’t willing to pay those prices anymore.
This is an open letter to all (micro/major) watch producers about watch prices. Too many watches are overpriced for the value they provide. Some deserve and can command the asking price, while many other “me too” watches are overpriced. Please consider these perspectives.
I have had the privilege of speaking with many micro brand founders in all price ranges and varying degrees of success. They are inspiring and many of them I look to for their thoughts and analyses on the micro brand industry. One question I like to ask founders is “who buys your watch?” or “who is your target customer?” I have heard very detailed responses all the way down to “I, for one, would definitely buy my watch” . . .”people that like watches” . . .”we won’t know until we start selling them!”…..
While these are a range of possible answers, they can also signal some pitfalls that can come with launching a watch brand. There are many types of watch buyers out there and every brand should be targeting one type and designing their watch in look, feel, and price to appeal to that customer. Some micro brands know their customer very well and do a great job, while others miss the mark. Below is my summary of the types of watch customers out there. Which type of watch buyer are you?
139 years ago at the 1876 World’s Fair…If you don’t like history, this article is not for you. However, if you like watches and their history at all, or even if you care about how things were made 140 years ago, then you should read this article. To fully understand how dire these times were for the Swiss industry, their representative wrote “It is obvious to all that at this moment the American factories have the advantage. Their products are wanted everywhere, they manufacture and they sell, while the Swiss factory is idle and its agents are without business, many with unsold goods.” This is the story of intrigue, secrets, strategy, and serves as the launching pad for the eventual Swiss dominance of the watch industry. This is the story of 1876.
Swatch Group is suffering from decreased sales and profits while accruing massive inventory levels over the past few years. The company has recently identified non-specific opportunities for growth in 2017 that seem to have little chance of loosening the quickly tightening belt. While Swatch Group’s self-projected sales growth would be nice, growing inventory levels are something that cannot be ignored. This should leave all of us wondering Is Swatch Group being realistic? Here is my op-ed analysis.
The watch industry is a very complex environment. While it is fascinating in the sense that it thrives off selling obsolete mechanical watches, it continues to baffle many watch collectors. I’ve assembled a simple analogy for the industry. This analogy includes the classic brands as well as the newer prestige brands entering the fray, and also micro brands. As an owner of both traditional Swiss watches and micro brands, this analogy brings both into perspective for me. The analogy starts down a road directly to my heart — food…
“It’s Complicated”: The American Watch Industry, Federal Trade Commission, and Claiming “Made in America”
Made in America claims in the watch industry have been elusive. Claiming anything is made in America is very difficult and costly in today’s global economy. The US has an “all or virtually” all parts made in the US requirement. Recently, many American watch companies have been rebuffed by the Federal Trade Commission for misleading claims. Watch companies claim the FTC guidelines are vague and put American companies at a disadvantage. To get to the bottom of it, I interviewed the FTC’s lead attorney for enforcement as well as two of the only American watch companies currently making Made in America claims.
It’s that time of year where the Richemont-hosted Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) is over and onto Baselworld (primarily a Swatch-oriented event). SIHH featured some pretty neat watches, especially tourbillons, and a lot of watches made with non-traditional materials. Yet, what was offered seemed unattainable; a celebration of the unattainable in a year that consumers are spending less on watches and sales are cratering.
This is Article 4 of our 4-part series on Design & Innovation. TAG Heuer Monaco. Rolex Submariner. Omega Speedmaster. Breitling Navitimer. Hamilton Ventura. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. Lange 1. Over the previous 3 articles, I have argued why design is the only realistic hope the watch industry has to draw new consumers and shift preferences. I explained why the heavy investment in new movements, in-house movements, and material science are neat but don’t have the power to actually draw new consumers. Finally, in the previous article, I explained what makes a watch icon and why icons have defined watch history and encouraged watch companies to turn towards design to make new icons. In this final article, I’ll write about the watches that were icons and what them an icon, showing how much of that focused on design. These weren’t icons because of some massive revolution in them telling time better, or some genius new material. They were icons because of design. And while these designs continue to capture consumer imagination, it’s time for another bold step in design from the watch companies. Who will make the leap?
This is Article 3 of a 4-part series on Design & Innovation. Rolex Submariner. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. Patek Philippe Nautilus. Heuer Monaco. Hublot Big Bang. Hamilton Ventura. Gerald Genta. Jean Claude Biver. These names all share a special bond that few others deserve to be associated with. These people or companies/designs took risks to make something new, something bold. Yet, despite great examples, very few watches or designers today introduce bold new watch designs that are a risk to any watch company.