While people struggled to make lists of what their favorite pieces of 2010 were, I started thinking about the future. Sure, 2010 saw its share of really great pieces, but I think there is a lot we can look forward to. For me, I think 2010 did a great job at offering pretty good sub $10,000 watches. Few new movements, less tourbillons, and less glam. Instead, we saw more innovation in materials, as well as "keeping it simple." I was also surprised at the number of new brands. Good watches in the $2,000 - $4,000 range were certainly present, but I wanted to see much, much more of them. The economy seems to be improving a bit, and China is quickly becoming the new mecca for luxury watch dollars. Here are my top five things I want to see from the watch industry in 2011:
1. Sober Pricing
With more and more brands selling direct, the cost of business goes down as middlemen go away. This should allow watch prices to go down (a lot in theory). I would like to see watch brands offer better value propositions so that more people can afford "good watches." The high-end market will of course always be there. I feel that brands should focus on offering more decent watches to the 20-35 year old range who is going from either no watch or something very low-end to a nice watch, but can't jump straight to a $10,000 watch.
2. Getting Real With Real Media
I was dismayed back earlier this year when I got the highly acclaimed "Watch Your Time" supplement to the New York Times. The full-color supplement was on watches, and presented articles from some of our industry's most renowned print writers. On the cover of the supplement was the term "Special Advertising Section" (or maybe it was "advertorial"). That little statement on the cover told the whole story, or more or less told anyone that what is on the inside is paid-for-copy. Where is the beef people?
While I understand that high-end watches don't always make for a newsworthy stories, the industry can get more coverage when it is a bit more open. Dedicated watch media can have more "valuable" inside, while mainstream media can have more meat. Watch media needs to get more real before it can get more respect. The internet has made that possible for anyone to do. I highly recommend that the existing watch media publishing and journalism industry get together with the watch industry to discuss how watch media can be less marketing related, and more culture related.
3. Reality Check Online
2010 saw the watch industry as a whole finally step into the Internet's living room. Watch brands are finally realizing how important the Internet is from marketing and sales standpoint - and then they totally lost track of reality. Expectations from social media was utterly unrealistic, with brands thinking Facebook and Twitter is some magic way of getting new customers. Time to sober up and get real. Social media is for sharing information and offering a communication access point. Not some news ticker feed that people are going to sit there and watch. The worst offenders are those who "cry wolf" with their fans and followers offering weeks and weeks of pointless crap before anything interesting is actually communicated (if ever). Stop using social media as some self-generated yearbook and figure it out.
4. Universal Names
This doesn't have anything to do with 2011 per se, but it is about time someone started to talk about this. Let's get universal with names. My main focus here is with movements, but it runs so much deeper. Much of the time I don't care whether your new watch has an in-house movement or not. If you use an ETA, just say so. Don't call an ETA 2824 movement that has your name on the rotor a "XG-24/LJH.309." Just say it is an ETA 2824 with your rotor, or perhaps decor. There are so many smokes and mirrors around movements. It is totally unnecessary - and I am sick of having dig deep and deal with 500 names for one movement. I have no problem with an ETA, or Soprod, or Sellita, or Dupois Depraz, or whatever. Just tell us what it is so that we can understand your watches better. Imagine if car companies were totally unclear about the engines they used.
5. Return From Return To Classic
We are in 2011. Not 1811, not 1911, not 1971. I understand an adherence to tradition, and the appeal of a marvelously classic watch, but I am getting sick of everything being borne of either "tradition, heritage, classicism, or vintage." You know, I like modern things, and I am not the only one. Modern looking watches shouldn't just be futuristic ones coming from Japan or the ultra high-end guys who sell $100,000 plus watches. I've looked over my collection and realize I like "different" watches. Not solely those, but I am always looking for contemporary looks as well as stuff that looks timeless. Nostalgia is a beautiful thing, but sometimes watch design feels like a broken record.