Direction of the watch industry

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Re: Direction of the watch industry

Post by NigelS »

iain wrote: Thu Jul 27, 2023 8:06 am . . . . . when I look at a post such as this one recently, where a watch made by the Brooklands watch company which is selling for £5,700.
other-brands/brooklands-watch-t61938.html

My immediate thoughts are “Wow, I bought my JLC and all my IWC watches for less than that”
The Brooklands looks like a nice watch but I wonder what the actual cost of production is? Luxury watches are not sold on a cost+ pricing policy (except perhaps for bespoke) which I understand is the CW model but on what the market will stand supported by hype in its purest form - 'The watch face’s edge is banked, like the Brooklands race track' :lol: :lol: :lol:

Looking at longer term trends, I wonder whether the mechanical watch market can be sustained, certainly at the SW200 priced end. I asked my teen aged grandkids what their friends wear - a few cheap (plastic) quartz and the majority Apple/Garmin etc. and certainly no mechanical. Will mechanical appeal to this cohort later in life when they have a bit of cash to splash??
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Re: Direction of the watch industry

Post by BobMunro »

NigelS wrote: Thu Jul 27, 2023 9:05 amWill mechanical appeal to this cohort later in life when they have a bit of cash to splash??
Yes, I would think it will.

It needs to be borne in mind that the number of people now who spend more than a few hundred on a watch is quite low - most much less than that. Us forumites/WIS are a pretty rare (some would say very strange) breed.

Yet the mid to higher end seem to be doing well enough from the small audience size. A cheap quartz watch is bought to tell the time - mid-high end are bought for other reasons, not least as a piece of jewellery.
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Re: Direction of the watch industry

Post by rkovars »

jkbarnes wrote: Wed Jul 26, 2023 7:31 pm This thread has me thinking about my post about the Tudor BB54. It’s not priced at a point beyond my reach financially. If I really wanted that watch to commemorate my retirement, I could get it. But at 2x to 3x the price of a CW, is it 2x to 3x the quality? I just don’t know about that, and therefore would have a really hard time spending the money on it. Now, I don’t judge anyone who does, I just don’t think I could do it.

But what a lovely watch it is…. <sigh>
I have this conversation with myself on almost a daily basis! :lol: I have looked at Sea-Dwellers since the 80s (now that would be a long term grail! :lol: ). Not taking into account that I should have bought one back then, I keep putting it side by side with my Ombré and saying is the Sea-Dweller really 8x better? In some ways it is and in other ways it is most certainly not. (note that my pricing is for neo-vintage Sea-Dwellers - Those are and always will be the only ones that exist in my world :lol: ).
iain wrote: Wed Jul 26, 2023 7:23 pm That’s actually a good observation. I remember trying on someone’s 90’s Rolex GMT Pepsi and was quite disappointed with the quality of the bracelet and how lightweight the whole watch felt.
This point is also interesting. I have long believed that our perception of watches is largely filtered by when we got into watches. Reading between the lines of your post you got into them around 2010 or so. Give or take. I got into watches (in a serious way - at least to the point where I was starting to spend my own money on them) in the mid to late 80s. The very things you talk about above I think make those watches superior to the new iterations. I find that the latest generation don't wear as well. But, I am looking at it from the lens of when I got into watches and being an owner for more than 30 years. I can say with a straight face that if a 1675 and a 126710 were on the table I would take the 1675 every time. Well, maybe I would take the 126710 sell it, buy a 1675 and go on a vacation with what was left :lol:
strapline wrote: Thu Jul 27, 2023 7:28 am
iain wrote: Wed Jul 26, 2023 6:28 pm Does anyone else have this growing sense of disillusionment with the way the watch industry is heading with its pricing and marketing direction?
Not at all! I think the mechanical watch market has probably never looked more healthy, with its wealth of smaller/newer manufacturers. As a whole I think watch manufacturing standards have gone up, in line with a more knowledgeable watch consuming public. And modern production allows well made watches to be produced in significant volumes keeping prices realistic, whereas in the past these types of detail could only be attained through hand finishing etc. I genuinely believe that for those looking outside the 6,7 or 8 so called marquee brands from the old, historical watch houses, there's never been a more satisfying time to be a watch enthusiast. You only have to look at the excitement generated on this forum every time a new model is announced. I also think the internet straight to consumer model has been a game changer where watch pricing is concerned.

Des
I agree with this. There are more quality choices spanning every price point (even the ultra high end) than ever. We are spoiled for choice as long as you are willing to stray from the 10 or so biggest name brands. The advances in manufacturing over the last 20 years have elevated the lower tier brands to an astonishing degree. It is amazing what can be put into a $700 watch today verses even 20 years ago (even adjusted for inflation).

It certainly seems that the big brands have ceded the entry level space to other brands. We will see with time if this strategy works in the long run.

In the meantime the secondary market is healthier than ever as well. There are still some deals to be had if you are patient and persistent and don't care about the pageantry of purchasing from an AD.
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Re: Direction of the watch industry

Post by jkbarnes »

rkovars wrote: Thu Jul 27, 2023 3:17 pm I can say with a straight face that if a 1675 and a 126710 were on the table I would take the 1675 every time.
This is something I think about a lot. Was the 1675 a true tool watch that was built for a defined purpose and was absolutely fit for purpose (and priced accordingly) while the 126710 is a luxury watch version of that original tool watch (and now as a luxury item is also priced accordingly)? Does that make sense?

It seems to me that Submariners, Explorers, and GMTs in the 50s, 60s, and 70s were tool watches where the price reflected the robust construction and the complications required for them to fulfill their role.

Now they are fundamentally luxury watches more than tool watches.
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Re: Direction of the watch industry

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^^^^Luxury pieces as far as price is concerned, for sure. Certainly no less capable in fulfilling their role as a tool IMO.
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Re: Direction of the watch industry

Post by rkovars »

jkbarnes wrote: Thu Jul 27, 2023 3:26 pm
rkovars wrote: Thu Jul 27, 2023 3:17 pm I can say with a straight face that if a 1675 and a 126710 were on the table I would take the 1675 every time.
This is something I think about a lot. Was the 1675 a true tool watch that was built for a defined purpose and was absolutely fit for purpose (and priced accordingly) while the 126710 is a luxury watch version of that original tool watch (and now as a luxury item is also priced accordingly)? Does that make sense?

It seems to me that Submariners, Explorers, and GMTs in the 50s, 60s, and 70s were tool watches where the price reflected the robust construction and the complications required for them to fulfill their role.

Now they are fundamentally luxury watches more than tool watches.
There is a lot of truth to this and probably one reason why they don't appeal to me in their modern form.

This is also probably why I don't like the 'blingy' trend either. Polished bezels and bracelets look out of place to me. Although I freely admit there is an element to style here too (I prefer an understated look).
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Re: Direction of the watch industry

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jkbarnes wrote: Thu Jul 27, 2023 3:26 pm
rkovars wrote: Thu Jul 27, 2023 3:17 pm I can say with a straight face that if a 1675 and a 126710 were on the table I would take the 1675 every time.
This is something I think about a lot. Was the 1675 a true tool watch that was built for a defined purpose and was absolutely fit for purpose (and priced accordingly) while the 126710 is a luxury watch version of that original tool watch (and now as a luxury item is also priced accordingly)? Does that make sense?

It seems to me that Submariners, Explorers, and GMTs in the 50s, 60s, and 70s were tool watches where the price reflected the robust construction and the complications required for them to fulfill their role.

Now they are fundamentally luxury watches more than tool watches.
^ totally agree Drew and rkovars. Watches for purpose versus watches for image
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Re: Direction of the watch industry

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NigelS wrote: Thu Jul 27, 2023 9:05 am
Looking at longer term trends, I wonder whether the mechanical watch market can be sustained, certainly at the SW200 priced end. I asked my teen aged grandkids what their friends wear - a few cheap (plastic) quartz and the majority Apple/Garmin etc. and certainly no mechanical. Will mechanical appeal to this cohort later in life when they have a bit of cash to splash??
On the other hand kids will blow £500 every two years on the latest PS or Xbox, have phone contracts costing £1000pa, and spend fortunes on earbuds, sneakers and the right clothing, unlike most of us, I expect.
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Re: Direction of the watch industry

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rkovars wrote: Thu Jul 27, 2023 3:17 pm
iain wrote: Wed Jul 26, 2023 7:23 pm That’s actually a good observation. I remember trying on someone’s 90’s Rolex GMT Pepsi and was quite disappointed with the quality of the bracelet and how lightweight the whole watch felt.
This point is also interesting. I have long believed that our perception of watches is largely filtered by when we got into watches. Reading between the lines of your post you got into them around 2010 or so. Give or take. I got into watches (in a serious way - at least to the point where I was starting to spend my own money on them) in the mid to late 80s. The very things you talk about above I think make those watches superior to the new iterations. I find that the latest generation don't wear as well. But, I am looking at it from the lens of when I got into watches and being an owner for more than 30 years. I can say with a straight face that if a 1675 and a 126710 were on the table I would take the 1675 every time. Well, maybe I would take the 126710 sell it, buy a 1675 and go on a vacation with what was left :lol:

That’s an interesting take on this. 2010 or thereabouts sounds about right for the time I got into watches. My first was a Tag Aquaracer with a simple fold out dive extension on the clasp and pin and collar adjustments. I was amazed when I got a CW which was an early mark 2 trident and noted the bracelet was almost identical to my Tag, albeit with a different logo on the clasp and slightly different angles on the link ends.

However I’ve since moved on and I now have my IWC bracelets as the high quality benchmark and I prefer them to my older Tag and CW.
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Re: Direction of the watch industry

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watchaholic wrote: Thu Jul 27, 2023 3:50 pm ^^^^Luxury pieces as far as price is concerned, for sure. Certainly no less capable in fulfilling their role as a tool IMO.
Absolutely true, and I wasn’t trying to suggest otherwise. What I would argue though is that now they’re bought far less for their original tool watch intent and more as luxury items.
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Re: Direction of the watch industry

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NigelS wrote: Thu Jul 27, 2023 9:05 am Looking at longer term trends, I wonder whether the mechanical watch market can be sustained, certainly at the SW200 priced end. I asked my teen aged grandkids what their friends wear - a few cheap (plastic) quartz and the majority Apple/Garmin etc. and certainly no mechanical. Will mechanical appeal to this cohort later in life when they have a bit of cash to splash??
I think you’re spot on here. Perhaps this explains the shift in the watch industry. Watches are no longer part of the average Joe’s EDC. Maybe we’re seeing luxury prices because it’s primarily a luxury market now? Are the major players defining the market or following the market? Perhaps a bit of both I suppose.
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Re: Direction of the watch industry

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@jkbarnes , @NigelS -
you suggesting we’re dinosaurs ? :lol: (I can take it!)
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Re: Direction of the watch industry

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missF wrote: Thu Jul 27, 2023 8:05 pm @jkbarnes , @NigelS -
you suggesting we’re dinosaurs ? :lol: (I can take it!)
I prefer antiquarian to dinosaur.
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Re: Direction of the watch industry

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A few observations:

1. The cost of a number of familiar watch brands do seem to have increased significantly over recent years. To test this, I took 3 of my watches - Rolex SubC ND, Omega Seamaster Professional 300M and Tudor BB58. I took the RRP at the time of purchase, used the RPI (an established UK inflation index) and indexed the RRP forward to June 2023. The Rolex should now cost £7,517 and does now in fact cost £7,700 (for an arguably slighlty upgraded movement); the Omega should now cost £5,050 but now retails for £5,200. The Tudor should now cost £3,540 but in fact is only £3,280.

The conclusion - yes watches have gone up quite a bit in recent times however not really that different to inflation. Have you seen how much a pint of milk or loaf of bread costs these days. In real terms the prices maybe aren't that different, and that is before taking into account depreciation of the GBP vs the CHF/USD in the past few years that possibly also influences the foregoing prices. Of course as the bread and milk and everything else goes up in price, then we all perhaps have less disposable income to spend on frivolities/luxury items like watches, so that is an important factor to consider.

2. As much as the Instagram watches may be annoying to genuine watch enthusiasts, or the older amongst us, I do think that this does generate interest in mechanical watches particularly in the younger generations who us older folk probably assume are only going to want to wear smartwatches and thus will spell the death knell for mechanical watches, perhaps Instagram will keep the mechanical watch alive. I was on a recent work event at the York races where everyone was in their glad rags wearing their best finery. It was surprising how many people, younger and older, do like a nice watch. I had quite a few watch discussions on the day. I do think that a nice watch is still an aspirational item that people will spend a windfall, annual bonus, milestone gift money for. Even people who aren't really watch fans or know much about them.
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Re: Direction of the watch industry

Post by NigelS »

JAFO wrote: Thu Jul 27, 2023 5:26 pm
NigelS wrote: Thu Jul 27, 2023 9:05 am
Looking at longer term trends, I wonder whether the mechanical watch market can be sustained, certainly at the SW200 priced end. I asked my teen aged grandkids what their friends wear - a few cheap (plastic) quartz and the majority Apple/Garmin etc. and certainly no mechanical. Will mechanical appeal to this cohort later in life when they have a bit of cash to splash??
On the other hand kids will blow £500 every two years on the latest PS or Xbox, have phone contracts costing £1000pa, and spend fortunes on earbuds, sneakers and the right clothing, unlike most of us, I expect.
Exactly, its the opportunity cost of modern technology v a mechanical device that echoes back to the beginning of time (sorry about that one!). I grew up having to wind my Rotary every morning until one day I took the back off and became fascinated by the ingenuity of watch mechanisms. The tendency seems to be to revert to youthful interests in later life when one can afford to indulge. My interests half a century ago was anything mechanical, in middle age it was motorcycles only as I have arthritis now I can no longer get me leg over, so I have reverted to watches. Once today's yoof go on to have their own families I fear apart from a tiny very wealthy cohort, the interests of the middle aged and elderly in three or four decades time will be taken up with hobbies other than collecting mechanical watches.
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