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My Experience At aBlogtoWatch & Bremont’s Event At The Galpin Aston Martin Vault

My Experience At aBlogtoWatch & Bremont's Event At The Galpin Aston Martin Vault Shows & Events

The VIP Aston Martin Vault at Galpin Premier in Los Angeles is usually closed off to the public by a large, curved steel door that only opens at the touch of a James Bond-inspired button. Customers likely walk by every day not knowing that there’s a VIP vault just on the other side, but hey, that’s why it’s VIP. However, on December 16th, aBlogtoWatch and Bremont Watches along with Galpin Motors and their in-house watch boutique, Jewell’s, opened the vault for guests at our holiday party. There was an antique Jaguar, Bremont watches, eating and drinking, and some great conversation with watch lovers and aBlogtoWatch readers – all making for a fantastic evening. However, it wasn’t just an event for the sake of having an event, and really got me to thinking about the relationship between brands, buyers, and why so many watch industry events are giant flops in fostering a relationship between the two.

My Experience At aBlogtoWatch & Bremont's Event At The Galpin Aston Martin Vault Shows & Events

My Experience At aBlogtoWatch & Bremont's Event At The Galpin Aston Martin Vault Shows & Events

Before I go on, I want to say that this was specifically an interesting night for me because in my relatively brief several months as Managing Editor of aBlogtoWatch, I’ve attended many events hosted by brands (seriously, there are a lot of them), but this was my first that ABTW was hosting. To be honest, I was a little nervous at first, worried this would be yet another exhausting display of pointless revelry masked by pomp and an open bar. That fear was quickly extinguished when I thought about the improbable coalescence of the entities that made up this event.

My Experience At aBlogtoWatch & Bremont's Event At The Galpin Aston Martin Vault Shows & Events

My Experience At aBlogtoWatch & Bremont's Event At The Galpin Aston Martin Vault Shows & Events

First of all, you’ve got a literal vault for Aston Martin buyers in the middle of a Jaguar dealership in Los Angeles. On top of that, you attach a watch boutique adjacent to this Aston Martin Vault in a Jaguar dealership in Los Angeles. Then, you’ve got Bremont Watches, where Ariel and David recently did a manufacture tour where they, among other things, looked at the Ian Callum (head of design at Jaguar) designed MKI and MKII watches which are inspired by the Jaguar F-Type and E-Type, respectively (Ian also came from Aston Martin so everything seemed to make even more sense). With these three entities in mind, invited to the event were enthusiasts, collectors, and brand reps with a real love of watches and these cars. Without aBlogtoWatch (particularly Ariel Adams), there is no way the story of these unique and disparate participants could have been celebrated in a way that reached out to our guests and served a real cohesive purpose. What I am trying to say is that, whether or not it was clear to the outside world, the event would not have happened without aBlogtoWatch, and that we didn’t simply invite people to a pre-planned event.

My Experience At aBlogtoWatch & Bremont's Event At The Galpin Aston Martin Vault Shows & Events

My Experience At aBlogtoWatch & Bremont's Event At The Galpin Aston Martin Vault Shows & Events

Nobody wants to sit and read the minutes about an event they weren’t at, but for those of you who weren’t able to attend, let me share a story from the night that I think shows why this party was a success and the purpose it served. Nick English from Bremont had a Q&A session, and the first question off the bat was a bomb. The question was “where do you get your movements?” alluding to the brand’s communication fumble from about a year-and-a-half ago which involved unclear language about the partnership with La Joux-Perret in their BWC/01 automatic movement. Nick took the question in stride and honestly responded, citing the sourcing of some parts from ETA and La Joux-Perret and restated his strong desire to be fully in-house sometime in the not-too-distant future.

My Experience At aBlogtoWatch & Bremont's Event At The Galpin Aston Martin Vault Shows & Events

My Experience At aBlogtoWatch & Bremont's Event At The Galpin Aston Martin Vault Shows & Events

In our opinion, the situation is closed, and the brand has explained themselves – and we further think they make an impressive product. There was, however, the need for closure among some in the enthusiast and collector community. Nick delivered on this, and I was happy to see the questioner and Nick getting along famously after the Q&A – he was at the event, after all, because of a genuine interest in the brand in addition to being an aBlogtoWatch audience member. I was glad to see this in-person, face-to-face dialogue between the two of them take place for all to see. Sometimes, it takes a social event and a conversation in the right venue to get this kind of closure, and I was proud we curated that environment. Frankly, these kinds of situations between aBlogtoWatch and brands happen with some frequency, and it is in the one-on-one conversations where the issues are often resolved. Unfortunately, you guys don’t always have the option of engaging in this intimate way. In my opinion, this part of the night was a real victory and cause for celebration for every party involved.

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My Experience At aBlogtoWatch & Bremont's Event At The Galpin Aston Martin Vault Shows & Events

At its best, an event has a moment like this. aBlogtoWatch curated the environment that fostered this moment; it could never just happen on its own. An aBlogtoWatch event is a democratic environment where brands and buyers are positioned equally and where egos are left at the door. We are invited to do events all the time, but we rarely participate because there has to be a reason. I am thrilled that we could successfully get the disparate elements that make up the watch world together and have a great time while engaging in frank and entertaining conversation.

My Experience At aBlogtoWatch & Bremont's Event At The Galpin Aston Martin Vault Shows & Events

In a way, the event was a perfect representation of why I was a longtime admirer and fan of aBlogtoWatch before I joined the team. I’m proud that there’s room for an honest media broker in an industry that can be fraught with self-promotion, hype, and posturing to the point of exhaustion. And if it sounds self-congratulatory, that’s not my intention at all. I hope I can connect with those of you who I got to speak with at the event, and even more so, I hope we can get more of you guys to come to events as great as this one in the future.

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  • wallydog2

    This guy keeps popping up in most of the Bremont/Aston Martin pictures. Smart suit, dark pinkish tie. Probably some Ollie-gark

    • IanE

      Yes, I saw that – obviously ABlokeToWatch!

    • Yeah, I kept looking to make sure there no cargo shorts below that suit jacket.

      • Boogur T. Wang

        “What’s all the Hoi – Polloi? “

    • DanW94

      Maybe he’s from ABTW – (ABlogToWaldo)

    • iamcalledryan

      Did they take an aerial shot of him? I wouldn’t know him from Adam.

    • Marius

      Looks like an ex KGB member, probably its comrade Vladimir Putin. He is known for being a watch lover, isn`t he?

      • wallydog2

        Too tall to be Vlad; and he’s smiling and making eye contact.

        • Marius

          But Vladimir Putin is also smiling, usually before sending one to the gulag.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    How much is all this adding to the cost of the watch ? ( don’t mind me, am just jealous )

    • iamcalledryan

      Marketing costs are a marginal factor in both the costing and the pricing of a watch. The idea is that they increase awareness and demand, which increase sales volumes, which increases profit, which pays for next year’s marketing. If marketing spend and other overheads more materially impacted the price of a watch the MSRP would fluctuate wildly each year, which it doesn’t. Long story short, should they not have held this event, you would not have got a Bremont for $5 less.

      • Raymond Wilkie

        Interesting, thanks for the info

      • Hmmm, the watch industry spends hundreds of millions on advertising annually. To assert that this is a “marginal factor” on costing is hard to believe. Advertising is a necessary evil for exactly the reasons you mentioned Ryan – awareness and increasing demand. But the consumer pays for all if it. Collectively those hundreds of millions.

        Advertising is like retail mark-up. Everyone wants to believe the a low-margin Internet direct-from-the-manfucturer sales model with no advertising budget is ideal as it promises lowest watch prices. But how many people in the comments here have clearly stated that they would not buy a watch without seeing and trying it on. Hence retailers.

        Same with advertising, the less you do the less awareness you have. Huge ad budgets do not guarantee huge sales but with no awareness you simply won’t be on watch buyer’s radar. And the consumer pays for that “education” whether they like it or not. There is no free lunch. Happy holidays guys.

        • Raymond Wilkie

          Now am all confused ! : )

          • Hi Raymond. Ryan and I are agreeing that advertising/marketing is just part of the expense of a watch and we all have to deal with it (for the most part). But I do maintain that is not an insignificant amount of the wholesale price for many watch brands. But as Ryan points out, there are lots of legitimate expenses (beyond parts and watchmaker labor) involved in bringing a watch to the customers.

          • IanE

            Of course there is also the point that, without enough/correct advertising/marketing, sales would probably fall fairly significantly and then the cost-per-unit of producing the lower volume of watches would rise. The $64,000 question is to get the right amount and the right type of advertising/marketing – as John Wanamaker famously said, ‘Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.’

          • iamcalledryan

            Bang on the money. There is an invisible sweetspot – you only know when you have missed it by a mile.

        • iamcalledryan

          Happy holidays, sir.

          You are right that collectively the industry spends hundreds of millions on marketing and advertising and that without consumer revenue they wouldn’t. But the same can be said for telephone bills, car rental, Christmas parties, heating, the salary of the finance director, the salary of the head of HR. They do not have to have a salt-of-the-earth vein back to the watch to be any less important to a modern company. The marketing department and advertising budget has just as much a right to exist on the list of costs as the plumbing does, it’s integral to modern business.

          In running a company there is not a strong elastic relationship between marketing spend and MSRP. Yes they might report the profitability of a model and include marketing costs, but arguably X sales were driven by the marketing, hence paying for itself.

          • Marius

            Most businesses, big or small, have to incur expenses such as phone bills, rent, staff, however, not all have to pay millions to its brand ambassadors. I mean, Rolex is spending hundreds of millions on advertising every year, and I doubt that those sums are entirely payed by Rolex, without passing them down to the customer.

          • iamcalledryan

            It is marginal to the unit cost of a watch. Rolex sell 1m units per year at an average unit price of approx. $9k. That’s being conservative and doesn’t even cover the massive revenue they earn from real estate (that alone could keep the affloat for a year of no sales). Spending $200m on marketing and advertising is a significant cost, but of minimal impact to the pricing of a unit, no more so than the accumulated cost of all overheads. JLC is obviously not going to spend as much as even the accumulated revenue of Richemont barely competes. It is about relativity and there is not a single brand that comes close to Rolex in terms of units and revenue, therefore their marketing spend will also be unrivaled.

            You can be turned off by their ambassadors, unimpressed by their movements, but make no mistake, they don’t price to foot the bill for ads.

      • Marius

        Just like Mr. Carson, I also doubt that marketing expenses are marginal. Famous brands such as Rolex, Omega, or Tag Heuer practically sell their watches due to the hundreds of millions spend on advertising. Rolex, for instance, sponsors Wimbledon, Formula 1, Roger Federer, Tsonga, etc., and they have been doing this for ages. Omega sponsors the Olympic Games, the James Bond franchise, etc. I don`t want to criticize the quality of these watches, but I doubt that a Rolex Submariner could be sold for $9,000 without the Rolex logo, or that a Seamaster 300 James Bond for $7,500 without the Omega logo.
        On the other hand, brands that don`t pay so much for advertising, such as JLC, have more acceptable prices. OK, JLC is not a cheap brand, but for instance, a Geophysic True Second with the new movement, new balnce wheel, etc., has almost the same price as a Rolex Submariner, which, although a good watch, is technically inferior and less interesting.
        Anyways, I wish you a Merry Christmas and happy holidays.

        • iamcalledryan

          I think you misunderstand me. Of course the brand adds value to the watch, strip the logo off and it drops in price. And that goodwill is partly down to marketing spend, but not entirely. You have to deliver in addition to the promise of something, otherwise you run your goodwill dry – and some do exactly that. Perhaps at least one in that list above.

          However, the original question was about a small event such as this adding to the cost of a Bremont watch. It simply doesn’t work like that. Every company with ambition or scale will have a marketing budget and it will have a marginal impact on unit pricing. Marketing spend is as integral as the heating bill today. Arguably removing a $1m spend is cutting off an opportunity to earn it back over the next three years through potential customers that were on the fence or simply had never heard of the brand. It is about the cost of opportunity, not marketing to increase prices. In some cases not enough marketing can actually sink a model or even a brand if enough of the right people don’t get the message. It is an incredibly competitive industry. Imagine removing all the Rolex ads, there would not be radio silence, there would be a torrent of other messages from competitors. Rolex represents a third of the industry, and as such it should stand out like a monolith. JLc’s marketing spend is likely comparable as a % of revenue, don’t forget that Richemont is actually a more equal comparable to Rolex. And don’t kid yourself that JLC don’t play the brand ambassador game,: Diane Kruger, Clive Owen – yes niche, yes low key, and yes proportional to the volume of demand they are marketing to.

          I am specifically using the word marginal. They are not material, but significant, and they do not drive the price methodology, they attempt to drive the demand and pay for today’s top line but more importantly tomorrow’s.

          We are the few, the very few, who do not need or want the message because we seek out the raw data, and we buy on the basis of some very detailed requirements. But 90% of the customers of those brands you mention do not take it that seriously and are far more passive in their decision. This is where the marketing comes in. The marketing pays for x% more customers, not x% price increase for no good reason.

    • Ariel Adams

      I would agree that this type of marketing (too the degree that the event has a marketing component for Bremont in addition to being a gathering of aBlogtoWatch audience members) is minimal. In situations such as this expenses are often shared or totally absorbed by the retailer who have set prices for the watches that they sell. So while some marketing activities certainly can increase retail prices, compared to most marketing practices small events such as this have no impact on retail prices as far as I can tell.

  • minty xo
  • wallydog2

    Expensive watches and exotic sports cars: it’s all about creating a mystique – for an impulse buy today or for a delayed impulse purchase made tomorrow so it doesn’t look impulsive. Look at how the invitees are dressed: a studied insouciance with faded jeans and untucked shirts. That’s cool (curiously), but I’m sure one person amongst the invitees will sooner or later buy that Bremont or that English sports car – because they are cool, or they want to become cool, and have, or someday soon will have, the bucks to join or maintain the cool fraternity. Or maybe they just recognize quality and can’t be bothered to change into their Sunday/Go To Meeting clothes.
    Look at Rolex. They have created a mystique that allows them to double or triple what comparable products without the brand recognition charge. In our consumer culture, marketing, packaging, and store lighting is everything.

  • Epictime

    Looks like a fabulous event. Plan one in South Florida and I am there!

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