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The Different Kinds of Watch Buyers. Which Are You? A Critique of the Micro Brand Watch Market

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? 

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Iconic: Designs That Changed Watch History

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?

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Is Design the Next Big Revolution in the Watch Industry? Yup.

This is Article 1 of a 4-part series on Design & Innovation. What does it take to shift consumer preferences? A lot. My marketing professor used to always say “never underestimate the customer’s reluctance to change.” In today’s watch industry, many classic watches designed 50+ years ago continue to fascinate consumers and define expectations in watches. Yet, many of these companies are not exactly innovative either. While some see classic design, critics see lack of innovation. People naturally look to innovation in the mechanics of the watch, but this is hard to do and consumers can’t notice the changes. I will present a case for why design is the next revolution in the watch industry, and has a chance to shift consumer preferences back to the mechanical art.  

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Micro Brand Watch Awards 2016

This is my review of the most inspiring micro brand watches (producing <300 watches annually) that I’ve had a chance to take a look at in 2016. These are not endorsements, rather a nod to things these companies have done. This is not an exhaustive list — there are quite a few out there and this list is a small sampling of those I have been most impressed with this year. I can’t speak for pricing or value, just for the fact that they have done something unique or “cool” from an entrepreneurial perspective.

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How The Used Watch Industry Works

Buying used luxury watches is a risky venture. Selling a used luxury watch can lead to you getting fleeced by a more knowledgeable buyer. I wanted to learn more about the used watch industry so I went down to the European Watch Company in downtown Boston for a few days to see how the industry works. The used watch industry and how it works was something I never considered. My key takeaway is that relationships and trust are critical to survival.  Here is what I learned.  

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Watch Entrepreneur: The Orion Project

The story of a watch entrepreneur. How do you make a watch that isn’t like every other watch out there? There are tons of watches available on the market. There are even a lot of affordable start-up companies offering excellent watches such as TiMe22, BM&Y, and Shinola. My first question when talking to Nick was how he thought he could make something special that people don’t already have access to?

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The Tale of a Micro Brand Watch on Kickstarter

There are a lot of watch entrepreneurs and startups out there; this post is the story of one of those companies. This post will cover how these entrepreneurs design and produce watches, looking at their design processes, making prototypes, and finding producers. I will do my best to tell their story so that those interested in going into the watch business know the process, the difficulties, and the rewards of the industry. This is the story of TiMe22.