David v. Goliath: Micro Brands and the Swiss Watch Industry

Can a new watch company really break into the market? Can a new company with no name and no reputation survive? Even if you have no interest in their watches, you have to be curious. Going head-to-head with the marketing power of some of these companies seems insane. Not to mention, their quality is second-to-none; does a micro brand watch company really think they can match this?

micro brand watch companies

(Author’s work)

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Can a Micro Brand watch Company REALLY break into the industry?

Over the next two month or so, I am going to focus on a topic that many of us watch collectors wonder about, so we will ponder it: can a new watch company really break into the market? The watch market is dominated by huge brand names like Rolex, Tag Heuer, Omega, Seiko, Timex, Citizen, Patek Philippe. Can a new company with no name and no reputation survive? Even if you have no interest in their watches, you have to be curious. What are other industries near as stodgy as the Swiss watch industry? Going head-to-head with the marketing power of some of these companies seems insane. Not to mention, their quality is second-to-none; does a micro brand watch company really think they can match this?

This series of posts on watch micro brands will focus on some major themes. We will look at the entrepreneurs behind these companies and their inspirations. We will look at how they designed their watches from an idea on paper all the way through a finished product available on shelves. Entrepreneurship is about identifying an opportunity while others see a problem. That is exactly what these visionaries are doing: taking advantage of an opportunity while most people look at the Swiss Watch Industry as a fortified market with the commanding heights. As watch enthusiasts, my aim is to connect you with these companies on an emotional level, to bring you into their operations, feel their pains, and connect with their aspirations.

What to Expect From These Micro Brand Watch Companies:

These are the stories of electrical engineers that decided to start a watch company; a guy who didn’t go to college but started a printing business and now owns a watch company; another who quit his job to focus on his hobby of watch making. These stories of risk, reward, (and sometimes failure) will flow like this, with posts being released once a week:

Post 1: The Tale of a Micro Brand Watch Company on Kickstarter — this is the story of two companies that are both kicking off their kickstarter campaigns in the month of September. TiMe22 has a great idea, but we have no idea if they will be successful. We’ll evaluate their product and their plan.

TiMe22 RBP112 Open Box

TiMe22 will launch on Kickstarter on 12 September 2016. It is a beautiful watch, but will they make it? Do they have what it takes to be successful? (Company photo)

Post 2: Watch Entrepreneur: The Orion Project— Kickstarter isn’t the only way to launch a company. Nick is a 26-year old who started off trying to fix watches as a hobby. He figured out how to modify watches and was getting so much business he quit his job to launch a watch company.

Orion Project

The Orion Project — Watches by Nick (Company photo)

Post 3: Rising to the Top: Marketing for Startups— how these kickstarter companies are trying to launch & market their watches, pricing strategy, meeting their target customers, and the challenges that lie ahead.

Post 4: After the Kickstarter: CROFT Watches — once you finish your kickstarter campaign, the real challenge begins. You actually have to supply customers, sell more watches, and meet the demands of customer service. We’ll follow this Australian watch micro brand through this phase of the startup journey.

Croft Watches

CROFT Watches survived kickstarter. We’ll look at whats next. (Company photo)

The Way Forward

Micro brands trying to enter the industry have no small feat to achieve. They must compete against the logistics infrastructure, marketing machines, retail points, and pure experience these giants have. Over the next 6 weeks, we’ll get a chance to watch these small startups and their entrepreneurs go head-to-head with the titans of the watch industry. This is a story of David vs. Goliath; the underdog.

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I have a passion for watches and am a collector of luxury watches. I write opinion-based articles that try to bring the business lens to my writing to provide readers with a view of the business, marketing, and strategies of the watch industry companies I look into. In addition to Watch Ponder, I do speaking, freelance writing, and publish in other watch blogs and magazines. I do this as a hobby and because of my passion for watches. I am also a member of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors.

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