Are CW Too Affordable?

Discuss Christopher Ward watches
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Are CW Too Affordable?

Post by JAFO »

Seriously

CW sell watches at 3 x Material Cost. Clearly that's then plus VAT for UK customers. Even so, it makes them very competitive in the entry level luxury watch sector. It's still a remarkable low pricing strategy, I think. They still have to handle marketing, supply issues, and from threads that regularly appear QC and service issues. So are they too cheap at just 3x cost? It must be very difficult for CW to price their watches. You can see this with the C60 concept, being sold at a price far below equivalent stuff.


https://www.royalmint.com/offers/black- ... ver-coins/

One reason I ask is that I just got a mail shot from Royal Mint with a black friday event, offering 20% off various solid silver coins.
Now they sell nicely finished coins. Proof coins are struck to a very high standard, and generally supplied in small capsules so you never actually handle the coin and damage it with your hand acids and so on. I have a couple of sovereigns and special issue silver commemoratives which display quite nicely. They are hardly investments though, given the mark up on these items.

There is no VAT on coins, so it's easy to see what's going on with precious metals. So for instance they have a 5 ounce solid silver coin (999 silver, so pure stuff) commemorative of the end of WW2, limited edition of 275, in the link above. It's a nice item, but it's only a decorative piece, normally £465, but with 20% off it becomes £372. Now the silver bullion price is about £18/ounce, so 5 ounces would be around £90 max. I presume the royal mint buy silver for less than we can. So normally they are selling for at least 5 times cost, and discounted it's still over 4 times, and I imagine it's an easier production process than making watches. I doubt you need to give free samples to reviewers for coins. Clearly there's going to be design and set up costs and so on for a small run of coins. and for proof quality you may need to recycle a few "duds", but I imagine no returns, and no service costs.
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Re: Are CW Too Affordable?

Post by andybarry87 »

Potentially, if you look at their accounts they have made losses over the last few years in the trading and holding company. The last two years won’t be much of a benchmark as they will be heavily impacted by Covid, but the fact they are continuing to trade and access funding shows there is some resilience and faith in the business model.
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Re: Are CW Too Affordable?

Post by monkeymax »

I....... disagree. I can think back to my first (nearly) new CW (admittedly over 10 years ago) which cost £120 if I remember right. Couldn't do that today.

Granted there are many many reasons why this is the case - inflation, lack of quartz movements, higher quality, etc. etc.
There is no argument from me that CW still represents fantastic value for money for what you get and one massive aspect of that is the ratio of manufacturing cost vs sale price. It's fantastic they're moving to a more upmarket place and I am pleased to see this progression. But I don't feel affordable applies anymore (bearing in mind affordable means "not expensive" according to the Cambridge English Dictionary). Which is a shame as I think that at a lower price point they were a great way to entice people who may otherwise not have been interested in a 'nice' watch.

Someone who has previously only bought Citizen watches from Argos/H Samuel for £100 isn't suddenly going to try a £1k watch from an online retailer - whereas I was that person who thought 10 years ago I'd try an equivalently priced watch from an online only retailer because it was a similar price to what I was looking at on the high street and was... Affordable. (affordable obviously means different things to different people, but I'd class mass market, high volume quartz watches as being on the affordable end of things)

On the topic you raise of cost vs sales price though, I'd say they've got the ratio spot on (but then I wouldn't want them to be more expensive for obvious reasons!). They're in this interesting position where they're now relatively well established like some of the bigger, more well known, brands - and yet being slightly undercut by microbrands on Kickstarter. On that basis, I feel like they're in the right place cost-wise...
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Re: Are CW Too Affordable?

Post by missF »

monkeymax wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 2:25 pm
Someone who has previously only bought Citizen watches from Argos/H Samuel for £100 isn't suddenly going to try a £1k watch from an online retailer - whereas I was that person who thought 10 years ago I'd try an equivalently priced watch from an online only retailer because it was a similar price to what I was looking at on the high street and was... Affordable.
I agree, and think that retaining a quartz range might have offered CW the best of both worlds - ie onwards and upwards in terms of ambition, quality and cost, while still providing a foot-up to those who are looking for an entrance into the ‘proper’ watch market.
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Re: Are CW Too Affordable?

Post by Thegreyman »

Arguably Tribus tried to achieve a better cost price ratio, and that didn't work.
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Re: Are CW Too Affordable?

Post by A1soknownas »

The are never too affordable are they?!

Whilst similar to the question of value, affordability is a bit more subjective I think.

When purchasing I would be considering if it represents good value and that would be based upon the quality and how they compare to the prices of others for a similar spec and/or brand recognition which itself can have value.

I wouldn't be considering a purchase based upon what the cost ratio is. I think the 3 x cost is a catchy line and a simple way of communicating value to the customer. I am not sure how consistent the 3 x is and what is actually included in the 'cost'. Is it materials only or any of the overheads, research and development, staff and marketing etc. I think each watch would have a much more complex cost base and will differ dramatically from one to another.

As the prices have gone up they are less affordable generally and that trend appears to be continuing. That probably does mirror the quality improvements and innovation though so they are probably more affordable than similar offerings at this level but the gap is narrowing.

Someone who bought a CW 7 years ago might not think they are affordable now, whilst someone who never considered a CW then but would now might think they are affordable. The affordability might not have changed but I think the customer to some extent has.
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Re: Are CW Too Affordable?

Post by FloridaPhil »

Thegreyman wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 3:19 pm Arguably Tribus tried to achieve a better cost price ratio, and that didn't work.
But they tried it from the outset without a track record. It was always going to be a difficult path.

Also, I think their model lineup was/is.... odd.. given that dive watches are, by far, the single most popular design... and they don't have one.

CW has inched up their pricing model slowly while simultaneously improving the quality and that is, I think, the right way to do it. Get a foothold and then advance from there.
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Re: Are CW Too Affordable?

Post by H0rati0 »

CW has continued to lose money over the years, so purely economically, yes their prices needs to rise though that has to be managed carefully. I believe we are seeing that evolution, not forgetting they have an investor now and the pressure is surely on to get into the black.

We know they want to move up market also, so again prices need to reflect aspiration but increased pricing cannot be offset by too much reduction of volume.

Challenging times.....
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Re: Are CW Too Affordable?

Post by ajax87 »

^^^ Agree with Phil, CW has apparently already recognized this and are inching themselves up very slowly. I recall 2 price increases across all models in the last 2 years.
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Re: Are CW Too Affordable?

Post by angusbon »

A1soknownas wrote:The are never too affordable are they?!

Whilst similar to the question of value, affordability is a bit more subjective I think.

When purchasing I would be considering if it represents good value and that would be based upon the quality and how they compare to the prices of others for a similar spec and/or brand recognition which itself can have value.

I wouldn't be considering a purchase based upon what the cost ratio is. I think the 3 x cost is a catchy line and a simple way of communicating value to the customer. I am not sure how consistent the 3 x is and what is actually included in the 'cost'. Is it materials only or any of the overheads, research and development, staff and marketing etc. I think each watch would have a much more complex cost base and will differ dramatically from one to another.

As the prices have gone up they are less affordable generally and that trend appears to be continuing. That probably does mirror the quality improvements and innovation though so they are probably more affordable than similar offerings at this level but the gap is narrowing.

Someone who bought a CW 7 years ago might not think they are affordable now, whilst someone who never considered a CW then but would now might think they are affordable. The affordability might not have changed but I think the customer to some extent has.
Totally agree with you.
The 3x cost has to be taken with a pinch of salt.
I wouldn't dream of spending £1000 on a CW, although I would imagine quality has improved.
Decent niche brand sitting above a micro but off the big boys by quite a way

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Re: Are CW Too Affordable?

Post by Amor Vincit Omnia »

I suspect that this is one of those threads that is going to divide opinion nicely down the middle, as well as provoking some long posts, quotes and counter-quotes.

So let’s start here with a little “flipped thinking”, so to speak. Are CW watches too affordable, or is it perhaps the case that comparable watches from certain other brands are too expensive?

The watch on my wrist at the moment (see below) is listed at £900 on the CW website. This week, in the Black Friday sale, I can get it for £780. It’s a watch I could wear for pretty much any occasion or purpose. Yes I could, don’t give me that eyewash about dress watches being a necessity of life. (Playing Devil’s Advocate here! :wink: )


Image

In my recent review “Read all abaht it, guv” - I shan’t repeat myself - I came down on the side of this being one of CW’s best ever watches, and certainly my personal favourite.

Now, I know that there are different segments in the so-called luxury watch market, and I know that CW doesn’t have to pay the middle-man, as it were. That makes a difference. There are brands using the same Sellita movements as CW and charging twice as much for the watches. There are brands using ETA/Sellita ébauche movements, titivating and renaming them and charging four or five times as much. I’ve got one, and I love it. But…should my Cartier Tank really be valued at four times the price of my Sealander? I doubt it, if I’m being perfectly honest.

Maybe CW could raise prices a little more, but we have all seen the grumblings that have ensued when they have done that. And maybe there are “other brands” :silent: that could take a long hard look at what their top brass, ambassadors and posh stores cream off, and ask themselves if they are getting it right. I don’t suppose they will, of course.

Food for thought.
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Re: Are CW Too Affordable?

Post by strapline »

Nope!! I'd disregard the 3 x material cost spin, too. If anything CW might be highlighting the fact that the mid to luxury Swiss watch market is considerably overpriced. Let's be honest, disregard the brand name on the dial, when a watch says it is designed and manufactured in Switzerland you are paying the wage bill right along the manufacturing chain for people from a country with one of the highest standards/costs of living anywhere on this planet. Some Swiss brands milk this more than others. Look at what Certina offer for example, a Swiss company with almost 140yrs of heritage. £1,000 seems to get you quite a lot of watch from them.

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Re: Are CW Too Affordable?

Post by BobMunro »

Anyone who pays more than say £100 for a watch is considered by most to be a very strange animal! I say that knowing it applies to pretty much everyone who reads this post, and certainly to the person writing it!

There is, if we are brave enough to admit it, a certain snobbery when it comes to brands and that applies to watches as much as anything else. It seems somewhat perverse in saying this, although I believe it to be true in many cases, but CW may very well be perceived not as too affordable but too cheap - you can hear the whisper 'yes but there must be a catch, I would rather pay more because there is more perceived value and recognition in other brands.

We all know there isn't a catch and that CW offers quality way above its price point - but we the readers of this forum and buyers of CW watches are in a tiny minority of WIS.

The moral of this story - CW needs to increase prices so they are not perceived as cheap imitators of swiss horology!
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Re: Are CW Too Affordable?

Post by Amor Vincit Omnia »

monkeymax wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 2:25 pm Someone who has previously only bought Citizen watches from Argos/H Samuel for £100 isn't suddenly going to try a £1k watch from an online retailer
Why not? They certainly could.
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Re: Are CW Too Affordable?

Post by monkeymax »

I may not have worded that very well! But as BobMunro mentioned above, for most people who would normally spend no more than £100 on a watch, those who spend significantly more would seem strange. I guess my point was, for most people that's a big leap out of impulse purchase territory which when it's also sight unseen may be a leap too far. And that is a long way from the affordable CW that was around 10-ish years ago.
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