The watch industry is one of the most fascinating industries out there. Many people assume a watch is a watch — it tells time. That is a fact. This is why in 2017, I plan to explore industry topics that fascinate me. I will explain why the industry is a fascinating one, and why any business school or economics course could write a whole curriculum about the watch industry and cover just about every topic. Finally, I let you know what you can count on from Watch Ponder this coming year.
I am the sole writer of Watch Ponder and I run this blog because I am fascinated by the watch industry and also a love for watches. I am a collector, but also a student of business, history, and entrepreneurship and enjoy drawing the connections. I don’t get paid for this; in fact, by all definitions this is a bankrupt business — I spend money every month maintaining the site. The only reason I run the site is because I get to write articles that interest me and there are people that want to read 2,000 of those articles a month. I get to email with readers and talk watches with some of the most inspiring and interesting people around the world. Over the last year, I’ve had a chance to talk with CEOs of major companies, the founders of micro brands, watch historians, professors, researchers, investors, and most importantly, watch enthusiasts.
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The Topics Watch Ponder Will Cover:
Of most importance for 2017 is to continue to stick with genres and topics that interest me and that I view as “true to the brand” of Watch Ponder. I view the site as having a watch industry, business, and history focus. This is the niche and I plan to stick with it. Few other people (if any) are writing in this area, so I intend to keep the site an outlet for these topics. In 2017, these are some of the areas I hope to address, learn about, and share with other Ponderers:
1) Are there shifting preferences in watches? Are people moving away from wristwatches and if so, why?
2) Why do watch prices keep going up and is there any end in site?
3) How a re-approach to marketing could reshape the industry.
4) How Micro Brands are entering the industry and how they are affecting the industry.
5) Whatever happened to America’s once dominant watch industry?
6) More looks into the history of the industry and how it has been shaped over the last 500 years of watchmaking.
7) Detailed focus on major and micro brands that (I think) are going to shape the future of the industry as we know it.
8) Analyzing where the industry is headed based on the financial situations of many firms and the accompanying economic conditions.
9) Lastly but most importantly, more stories from inspiring individuals who are involved in and study the watch industry — founders, experts, historians, and executives.
Why You Should Care About the Watch Industry:
I mentioned before that I am fascinated by the industry. Here is why I think it’s fascinating:
- Watches are an obsolete technology yet we continue to buy them — in fact, we buy $25B luxury watches every year! Nobody is buying $25B in pagers, or compact disk players, or flip phones. Yet despite our watches being equally obsolete, we keep buying them. It’s fun to consider why.
- The watch industry is extremely isolated. You never see a headline saying the CEO of Macy’s is headed to Rolex. In fact, most of the former lieutenants of Jean-Claude Biver (CEO of TAG Heuer, former head of Blancpain and Hublot) now run many of the watch companies. Mr. Biver is one of the most inspiring individuals I have ever spoken to, perhaps one of the best CEOs of all time. But it can’t be ignored that the industry is run almost entirely from within its own ranks, creating a unique microcosm of industry that operates independently of many other industries and practices.
- The industry succeeds despite using business practices that would work in no other industry. The marketing practices are generally catching up to modern uses of social media. The financial management is a quandary at best with some firms maintaining over 3 years of inventory — well above that of comparable industries. The high costs of operations have put the profitability of the companies in a nosedive. Yet they still remain profitable with little chance of bankruptcy.
- The old-guard Swiss industry is a dominant force that is struggling in the current economy, yet new micro brands are flourishing and growing more than ever. The large titans of industry have no power over the micro brands in the era of social media — a complete refutation of Porter’s 5 Forces.
- The history of the industry is a complete MBA course in strategy. The Swiss haven’t always been the dominant watchmakers. There have been a series of choices and fate that have shaped the current industry to the way we know it. And now there is the smart watch entering the scene with a giant “TO BE DETERMINED” trailer running behind it. Here is a brief video primer on watch history:
Thank You for 2016:
Looking back at 2016, I am grateful to these people and brands for taking the time to speak with me. Please check out their stories, which I have linked where applicable:
–Elie Bernheim, CEO of RAYMOND WEIL
-Fred Martel, President (North America) of Baume and Mercier
-Martin, the owner of the strap company StrapsCo
-Ariel Adams, Editor-in-Chief of aBlogToWatch
-Stefan and Marc of TiMe22 Grade 5 titanium watches
-RT Custer, founder and CEO of Vortic Watch Company
-Watch designer and producer Mark Carson
-Watch designer and producer Richard Paige
-Nick Harris of Orion Watches
-Mike Wilson, the CEO of Niall out of Kansas City
-Shashi Mara, founder and owner of Mara Watch & Co
-Jeff & Melanie Nashan of the Montana Watch Company
-Albert Ganjei, owner of the European Watch Company
–Richard Watkins, a well-published watch historian
-Professor Ryan Raffaelli, Harvard Business School, watch industry expert
–Tom McIntyre and Jon Weber, experts on the American watch industry
-Bremont Watch Company
-Shaun at Croft Watches
-And all the others who spoken with me on background