How The High-End Watch Industry Is Robbing Itself Of Relevancy & What To Do About It

How The High-End Watch Industry Is Robbing Itself Of Relevancy & What To Do About It

How The High-End Watch Industry Is Robbing Itself Of Relevancy & What To Do About It Feature Articles

What is relevancy, at least in the context of product marketing? For me, it is the notion that a product is imbued with values which make it appealing for a consumer to include in their lives, today. In other words, relevancy is not just what makes a customer want a product, but feel compelled and able to actually purchase it. On a regular basis, consumers view interesting if not beautiful products that they otherwise have no desire to add to their lives because those products lack relevancy for them. Imagine all the times you saw a timepiece you admitted was nice, but formed absolutely no desire to include it into your collection. Oftentimes that is because the product lacked relevancy for your life.

How The High-End Watch Industry Is Robbing Itself Of Relevancy & What To Do About It Feature Articles

Relevant products must have a direct emotional connection to consumers, in addition to being both practically and economically viable for inclusion into their lives. In other words, for a consumer to buy something, that thing must be purchasable, practical, relatable, and desirable. If any of those elements are missing, product creators are likely missing out on huge volumes of business. Creating relevancy is the most difficult task product creators have, but without enough relevancy for enough consumers – especially for luxury brands – companies can fall flat on their faces despite having quality products.

How The High-End Watch Industry Is Robbing Itself Of Relevancy & What To Do About It Feature Articles

I'd like to apply this concept of product relevancy to the watch industry. Not only is this the industry I have been closely involved in for about a decade now, but I also feel that it is a prime example of an industry which struggles to create complete relevancy for many of its core customers. Before discussing this in detail, I would like to postulate as to why the watch industry is in this situation in the first place. This is because in modern times, the watch industry has borrowed far too many irrelevant practices from other industries which it mistakenly believes provide good answers for the problems it faces today.

How The High-End Watch Industry Is Robbing Itself Of Relevancy & What To Do About It Feature Articles

Two industries which the watch community follows perhaps too closely for direction are the fashion industry and the automobile industry. On the surface, it makes sense for the watch industry to pay very close attention to what these industries are doing because each sell many items which people don't strictly need, but want. Moreover, each of those industries thrive because of storytelling, design innovation, and clever distribution and marketing. If these elements were not properly aligned, it would be extremely difficult for the fashion industry to sell haute couture, and the car industry would barely be able to sell exotic luxury cars.

How The High-End Watch Industry Is Robbing Itself Of Relevancy & What To Do About It Feature Articles

What makes the automotive and fashion industries today different from the watch industry is that most human beings need clothing of some sort by default, and scant few people around the world make it through a single day without viewing a car, let alone being in one. Further, cars are still a principle way many people get around, and thus their relevancy in our lives is only rarely questioned.

How The High-End Watch Industry Is Robbing Itself Of Relevancy & What To Do About It Feature Articles

The watch industry, however, does not benefit from either of these things. The closest relevancy analog the watch industry can claim is that "each day most people around the world need to know what time it is." That is easily the most relevant concept the high-end watch industry has in the lives of average people. This is a poor foundation of relevancy because, as most people know, contemporary life provides most people in urbanized places many alternatives to determine the time aside from a wristwatch. Thus, the watch industry puts itself in a compromised position if it follows the lessons of the automotive and fashion (among other) industries as a means of determining how to maintain relevancy with consumers. This is because most of the industries the watch industry likes to follow have seemingly similar, but actually quite different relationships with the public at large, and thus distinct issues and challenges which do not align perfectly with that of the watch industry.

How The High-End Watch Industry Is Robbing Itself Of Relevancy & What To Do About It Feature Articles

I want to stay on this point a bit longer because I think it is very important to explain how the watch industry got itself into the position it is in now. There are very few managers in the watch industry who actually fully understand the entire cycle of how to design, produce, and market a great watch. The traditional watch is going on 30-40 years of not being a state-of-the-art product, and the smartwatch industry is still too nascent to offer a lot of intelligence in how average consumers make watches relevant for their lives. Thus, only a deep and specific understanding of why people purchase luxury watches can offer insight into how to make watches as relevant as possible to consumers.

How The High-End Watch Industry Is Robbing Itself Of Relevancy & What To Do About It Feature Articles

What I am trying to suggest is that it takes talented visionary minds in the watch industry today to embrace the best of what the watch industry can do and apply it to our contemporary times. One such individual is Jean-Claude Biver, who has demonstrated time and time again an understanding of how to take a traditional product, skin it for today's needs, and ensure enough people hear about it. He isn't the only one, but people like him continue to represent the exception, rather than the rule when it comes to relevancy creation and marketing.

How The High-End Watch Industry Is Robbing Itself Of Relevancy & What To Do About It Feature Articles

As I said, individuals like Mr. Biver are unfortunately all too uncommon in the watch industry – which, in my opinion, suffers from a much-too-serious "talent flight," losing more good people than it retains these days. Mr. Biver is lucky to be in a place that makes good use of his skills, but it stems from the fact that Mr. Biver himself is an enthusiastic lover of watches. The same cannot be said for everyone else in the watch industry who is in his position. Others who follow his lead or that of other industries (as mentioned above) can too easily apply flawed logic to the execution of business practices and strategies, resulting in well-meaning but altogether half-baked notions which do not lead to product marketing success. In other words, the industry isn't making the right watches for the right people too much of the time.

How The High-End Watch Industry Is Robbing Itself Of Relevancy & What To Do About It Feature Articles

Why Watch Product Relevancy Is So Important Today

There are two main reasons why watch product relevancy is such an extremely important issue today. First is because the watch industry is currently experiencing a "bubble-less" market where sales figures are slowing, and will eventually flatten out to a baseline plateau. That is just a long way of saying "business is bad" and that the industry is in a good position to reinvigorate itself with new ideas that can lead to sales success. Second is because the watch industry needs now more than ever to appeal to new audiences, and thus new customers. What customers? I agree with the watch industry in that its main focus should be on "millennial" (young) buyers who have yet to form a relationship with high-end watches. Appealing to young audiences is both an art and a science, and time and time again I see the same mistakes being made.

How The High-End Watch Industry Is Robbing Itself Of Relevancy & What To Do About It Feature Articles

Relevancy will determine whether or not young buyers are interested in watches, as well as whether or not existing watch lovers will continue to purchase new products in any volume. Relevancy is a term which I've found is very, very rarely even muttered in the watch industry. They instead prefer the term "innovation," whose meaning they typically pervert. Innovation means actually doing something untested and new. This is exactly what the watch industry rarely if ever actually does these days – a topic which I will explore below in detail.

I will now proceed to discuss overall areas where I think relevancy is hampered, and offer some specific suggestions on how I think relevancy for watch consumers can be created.

  • BILL

    So much relevancy and not enough relevance. 🙂

  • IanE

    Another thought-provoking article! I hope the watch industry listens to your insights – the current situation is looking stark at best.

    • mtnsicl

      Haha, the watch industry is going to look at this diatribe as a kick in the balls!

      • Sadly, they won’t even look. They are too busy scratching their heads wondering why things aren’t as rosy as they were 5 years ago (or 10 or 20). Heck, they are doing the same ole stuff – why aren’t sales continuing as before?

        • mtnsicl

          I don’t really think the watch industry as a whole is to blame. Sure, some companies could do what they do better. But, that’s about it. For some people watches are becoming relics that people don’t need anymore and that’s not the watch industries fault.

          Hey, I have to tell you, you’re watch grows on me the more I wear it. I get more comments about it than any other watch that I wear. It’s just so unique and different, in a very good way, than anything else out there. If the watch industry is lacking anything, it’s good unique designs.

          • Thanks – I think my watches do grow on you once you wear it a bit. They are more comfortable that you might guess looking at the case. But the angled lug rings and flat bottom make for a snug fit. While I appreciate the more “normal” watches out there, for me to design a watch that looks like everything else would be a pointless exercise. If you want a Rolex looking watch, buy a Rolex. When you want something different, independents sometimes offer designs that are unexpected. Aloha.

          • mtnsicl

            I totally agree and I really like the independent watch scene!

          • mtnsicl

            Oh, that’s cool! Wow, it’s almost been 4 years. Where does the time go? I guess it goes round and round on my watch, and never stops.

      • IanE

        Maybe – but that reflects the complacency that NEEDS a kick in the balls!

  • Elijs Dima

    Hmmmmm. ‘Relevancy’ or ‘Relevance’? (Not native English speaker, so genuinely confused on whether there’s a difference between the two, and which one is the right one in this case)

    • Marius

      There is no difference between relevancy and relevance. They are both nouns, and they they have the same meaning. The only difference is that relevance is more widely used today; relevancy is an older form.

      • Kind of like the watch industry…

        • Elijs Dima

          Heh.. perhaps so. Perhaps what the watch industry needs to strive for is Relevance, not Relevancy 🙂

  • Framlucasse

    This paper is interesting, but speaking about the problems of the industry without a word about the CHwiss watches is kind of a joke. Since 20 years, prices are going up and up, while watches are less and less Swiss Made.

    Swiss brands are selling expensive “Luxury Swiss watches” mostly made in China. Consumers know this, more and more, and this is a big part of the problem.

    • Bozzor

      Actually I don’t think too many people outside watch enthusiasts know this at all: the average consumer would simply look at a brand, see it is Swiss and think nothing about the percentage of components made outside Switzerland, the labor costs, the casing etc. They would then fork out a few hundred dollars for a “Swiss” watch…

      • Chemistman

        Correct. The Swiss knows what they are doing. For the few that knows , well you ain’t buying anyway so why bother.

  • Alex Vega

    The recommended dress code for a tuxedo, a high end luxury event, is No watch. Talk about relevance

    • Word Merchant

      The recommended dress code for a tuxedo is an attitude, a martini and a hooker.

  • Bi Lanz

    Limiting a discussion on product relevance to PR, Advertising & Brand Ambassadors without including the role of technology innovation, e.g Omega’s movement innovation, failes to address an important part of the problem

    • Tony NW

      Only to us. Most wearers don’t have a clue. I was stunned, a few years ago, when I realized how many people in my circle didn’t know how many cylinders their car has. Not whether it’s fuel injected, not whether it has forced induction or is naturally aspirated, not whether the AWD system uses viscous coupling, torsen, applied brakes or a planetary gear, but just the cylinder count.

      And yet they still valued Mercedes. Mostly while driving Hondas.

      Your average watch snob probably can’t even define escapement. And that’s where the money is. So I’m not sure technical innovation matters to Ariel’s thesis of THIS article. For us influencers, absolutely. But to the world? Less so.

  • Svetoslav Popov

    simply no way so many watches be sold at such high prices, … no matter what

    • SuperStrapper

      Except that they are sold every day

      • Svetoslav Popov

        yep, that is why the industry is in its current state 🙂

      • sethsez

        Except they kind of aren’t, which is why we see so many brands folding, consolidating or getting bought out, while others at looking for ways to weather the storm.

  • Word Merchant

    A small first step on the rocky road of improvement would be for Patek to sack their ad agency immediately after the weekend.

    • IanE

      And, yet, almost everyone knows their catchphrase!

      • You never really own a fart. It’s something your foist upon your next generation.

        • Omegaboy

          No? I bottle mine and save them.

          • Sheez Gagoo

            When you plan a kind of terror attack you could have the same effect with a spray called liquid ass.

          • Or “Ass in a Can” for the aerosol product. I think of “Liquid Ass” as a bottled product.

          • But for your adoring kids I hope. You’ve seen the look the young boy gives his dad in a PP ad haven’t you? I hope you get the same reaction with the presentation and uncorking of your “product”.

        • Phil leavell

          Most people couldn’t see the foist through the trees ; )

        • mtnsicl

          Oh, I own it. Every last one of them!

          • Go for plausible deniability – always have a dog or cat in the room to blame it on.

          • mtnsicl

            Haha, I tried that. My wife said, “the cat would not survive that.”

          • As in, “it would have melted his whiskers right off his furry face”.

          • mtnsicl

            I think she meant, if that came from a cat, It would be a dead cat.

          • mtnsicl

            I thought I replied to this but I don’t see it. No, she said something like, “if that came from a cat, the cat would be dead.

  • G Street

    If you are reading ‘this’ after 3 (Three!) pages of ‘that’, I salute you.

    • SPITX206

      I find it more interesting to read the comments first and then decide whether or not I want to read the article.

    • For writing this after reading that, I commend you.

      • Word Merchant

        For reading this after writing that after reading the other, I salute you both.

        • Berndt Norten

          For those about to write
          We salute you

          • This thread has potential…

          • BILL

            Blog to Watch ain’t noise pollution
            Blog to Watch just Blog to Watch!

          • BILL

            Blog to Watch like oxygen:
            You get too much you get too high.
            Not enough and you’re gonna die.
            You’re gonna die!

          • Berndt Norten

            It will survive (yes it will)

  • C.A.

    The brand ambassador always strikes me as odd, across all industries. Cologne: “Smell like this person”? It’s not like celebrities are purveyors of taste, and wearing something because you’re paid to is a hollow endorsement. Then, when the celeb hits a scandal iceberg, they get dropped like the Titanic for not ‘aligning with the brand’s values’, with the attached assumption that we thought this was a perfect person all along. If the association of a watch is due to a performance setting, fine. But to pretend that you are somehow cool or respected by a random celeb just because you have the same watch as them has always been preposterous to me.

    • Jon Heinz

      Wish I could afford a Bubba Watson tho.

  • SPQR

    “Luxury is not created via self-description, but rather demonstrated through undeniable qualities.” Absolutely true. So why do watch buyers accept self-described standards of quality rather than insisting on externally verified quality? As stated below the article is very interesting and yes I was still reading after 3 pages with rapt attention. Mr Adams has made some very good points particularly about the “Straight Highway” concept. But as one commentator points out with a discussion of technological innovation the article is not complete. Omega is a very good example to use as the anti-magnetic METAS tested and verified movements do arguably create “relevancy” for modern buyers. Given the proliferation of magnetic fields in modern life (computers, tablet devices, hybrid and electric cars, etc) this type of technology from Omega is very welcome. And to come back to the quote above Omega’s claims for their product are independently verified. The same cannot be said for the self-declared “Superlative Chronometer” standard.

    • sethsez

      the anti-magnetic METAS tested and verified movements do arguably create “relevancy” for modern buyers

      Do they? I mean, it’s neat technology but at the end of the day it’s like an hourglass with more even sand distribution or a typewriter that never jams: an improvement on technology that is still outdated. Nobody who isn’t already convinced by the charms of mechanical watches is going to be moved by something like that, since it’s still functionally the least-accurate method of telling the time currently in use. It’s a value-add for people who are already in the fold, not a selling point to anyone who would rather just use their phone.

    • Ariel Adams

      Yes, Omega did very great things with METAS. But I would argue that it is a story they aren’t making good use of when it comes to communicating it to consumers.

  • Keith Matheny

    It’s interesting how some watch-makers seem dismissive of millennials, deciding, “they’re just going to look at their iPhones or wear a G-shock.”

    Yet that same generation has led a resurgence in vinyl records. Why? Because having grown up experiencing music as a digital file, and then stumbling upon the record album, there was appeal to them in having something tangible, artful, warm and more interactive.

    Don’t tell me that a similar connection isn’t able to be made with analog watches.

    • DanW94

      Great point, I don’t think we give young people enough credit. As they move past the self absorbed, “anything outside my little world is not cool” stage and into their 20’s, they often become acutely aware of the greater world around them and what came before them in terms of culture, fashion, music etc….and actual like some of the things their parents liked. I think that’s why Patek’s campaign is so successful, They managed to emotionally bridge that generation gap with their product.

      • Omegaboy

        Our son is 22 and in college. Passionate about cars. He made the connection between cars and watches, and now happily wears an Alpina I gave him. He now likes salads, too. A bigger miracle.

        • DanW94

          That;s funny. My daughter’s 21 and about to graduate college. Spent her pre-teen and teen years listening to that atrocious dance and pop music. Come to find out she now has James Taylor, Toto, authentic Latin music etc….in her playlist. And she recently asked me to get her a record player. They surprise you.

          • MeaCulpa

            Yeah, toto isn’t artrocious…. so basically she’s listening to your kind of sh.. music instead of something relevant to her generation, thinking that that’s progress is basically the thinking of the watch industry and basically the reason watches are irrelevant.

          • DanW94

            Less about the perceived quality of the music and more about young people expanding their interests which could possibly provide a gateway to something different, i.e, a mechanical watch. It’s not always about forward progress but embracing something with a historical track record, something time honored that they’re just discovering….but thanks for being a douche anyway….

          • sethsez

            I’ll be honest, there did seem to be a strand of “their stuff is awful, our stuff was better” in your previous two posts. Pop cultural ephemera is pop cultural ephemera, every generation has it and every generation seems to think theirs is the best.

            The issue isn’t whether millennials on an individual level can or cannot be convinced to like watches, but whether or not watches can continue to be meaningful or a broader scale, and in many ways it still feels like watch advertising is stuck in the early 90s. Selling something simple, honest, well-built, fairly-made and long-lasting should be dead simple but for some reason the closest we’re getting is Shinola (whose watches are garbage) and Patek’s “you keep it for the next generation” line (which is only barely starting to be relevant for millennials and doesn’t hold much appeal to non-parents).

          • Word Merchant

            She should try listening to Insomnium, Be’lakor, Omnium Gatherum and Enshine. A nice step on from Toto.

          • Word Merchant

            They should meet.

  • Jon Heinz

    The watch as jewelry. Especially where men are concerned, where often the only other piece of jewelry that we wear is a wedding band. You don’t really NEED a watch. But as an accessory, it can be everything. It’s part of the whole package of your own personal style.

    • JosephWelke

      I have a Montblanc, and in its pretentious manual there’s a poem writ by a German. I do occasionally think of it, and I think its message could work for your post, and perhaps for millennials in general:

      “For possessions, I’ve never had a care.
      All I have that’s mine,
      In every store and line,
      Is a pen by Montblanc,
      It’s all there”

      Change “pen” to “watch” and “Montblanc” to “Watch Brand X”

  • Sk Tan

    Millennia is an important customer segment for the top-end watch makers in the years to come and there are many ways to create an emotional messages to reach out to this group. However lowering entry-level price point or create sub-category for this group with low disposable income is risky. To start with, a top-end watch to most people is never relevant, whatever the product marketing pitch. Top-end watch is a work of art to behold and enjoy. In itself the subject of relevancy (or relevance) of top-end watch may not be relevant here.

    • Gary (CM) Liew

      I totally agree.

    • Omegaboy

      Well said. I can’t afford the higher end stuff like Hublot, but I am considering the Oyster Perpetual Red Grape simply because it is so unreasonably colorful – and an affordable Rolex. It’s not a “sensible” purchase.

      Moderation in everything, including moderation.

  • Gary (CM) Liew

    Very well written article. I enjoyethd reading it. The “relevancy” issue can be applied to all product, not just only watches. You have suggested a couple of ways to overcome this issue and one of them is affordability. For me, it is the unattainbility is the the driving force as to why I “want” it instead of “need” it. This is also the reason why I will never buy an Omega or Tag Heuer. Maybe its just me, buy I feel that is not “comfortable” to buy a $15,000 watch from a company that also sells $1500 watches. Invicta is also a prime example. If watch companies want to follow the auto industry, then they should learn from Toyota. When Toyota wanted to move into the luxury segment, they fail miserably when they tries to sell a Toyota with BMW/Mercedes prices eventhough everybody knew Toyota was more reliable and offer more bang for the buck. Eventually, they created Lexus and used Toyota as the entry level to introduce younger buyer that can afford a Toyota, later upgrade to Lexus when their disposable income increase. Brand like Rolex, AP and Hublot don’t need to necessarily lower their prices to capture the “mellinial”. They could create a sub-brand in their target market to introduce their product. The problem right now is that conglomerates own so many brands. I just recently got into watches and brand isn’t my first priority. I look for functionality first, then aesthetic. My current number 1 want watch is the Rolex Deepsea. I don’t want it because its a Rolex, I want it because it can go to 12,000ft deep. There are other that can go deeper, such as Sinn UX2 and there where aesthetic comes in. The Rolex is just a clean looking watch. That just my 2 cents. This is an expensive hobby but at least I can pass along what I have to the next generation which hopefully will spark their interest in watches.

    • Phil leavell

      12000 feet deep .you might be dead but at least your watch would still be ticking nothing like functionality and how much is it worth

      • In this particular case, your life.

        • Phil leavell

          The relevance of the watch if used as what it was designed to be used for makes it necessary too many tools buy it to make a statement. It all breaks down to the fact money makes the world go round

          • Gary (CM) Liew

            A watch, just like IPhone 6, is just a toy. People that complain about other people spending $15,000 on watch are the same people that have an IPhone 6 on instalment payment.

          • sethsez

            An iPhone has far more functional relevance in the modern world than a watch does, and at its absolute most expensive it’s still only about the price of a Squale 1521.

          • Phil leavell

            You’re probably right. Nice thing about being older we can afford to pay cash for everything matter fact I don’t have a credit card

      • Gary (CM) Liew

        Of course I won’t be able to go 12,000 feet deep on a dive. You think people that buy Bugati Veyron drives 215 mph everyday? I admire the watch because of the engineering that went into it for it to be able to withstand 12,000 feet of water pressure.

    • Tomek

      I would really love to hear which Omegas go for 1,5 k from recent portfolios. Or maybe you haven’t been to an Omega boutique or webshop for 10-15 years…

      • Gary (CM) Liew

        Tag Heuer Formula 1 & Omega Constellation both under $2,000

    • It’s interesting that you’ve used Toyota as example. Toyota spawned SCION to do just as you say, provide a more accessible line of cars for younger, tastes and smaller budgets. They brand has failed and they made the same errors watch companies do. Thinking the product will sell itself, Failing to evolve with the target demographic,and failing to tailor the buying experience to the shopping habits of young buyers.

      • Phil leavell

        That’s a seriously good point. My son wanted a Scion FR-S. After showing him it was nothing more than just a Subaru which has little resale value. And the car was extremely expensive to insure. He settled on a Matrix. Maybe there is hope for Millennials yet

  • Luciano

    A very long (and philosophical) text, trying to make sense of something much simpler to explain. Taking the example of millennials… if they are spending hundreds of US$ every year to replace smartphones, laptops and other gadgets, wouldn’t they buy a luxury watch if these were correctly priced?

    • funkright

      One could apply the same graph to Uni eduction 🙁

  • Phil leavell

    Great article I really enjoyed it. Some of these luxury watch companies are going to go the same way Louie and Marie did. I’d be interested in knowing exact numbers of how many G-Shocks sell compared to a Rolex. Functionally versus cost no competition

  • Han Cnx

    Excellent read! I’d like watch makers to focus on the mechanical engineering aspects of watch making, more than fashion/lifestyle/jewelry. I think it’s possible to do other things in a mechanical / non electronic way, or mostly mechanical way, like a step counter (pedometer) and other things.

    • Allan Lichter

      I agree. My attraction to fine watches has always been based on the engineering and human craftsmanship that goes into making them. To me they’ve always been works of art with styles remaining grounded in tradition. I realize my feelings don’t necessarily constitute a marketing strategy, but it sure appeals to me. I have an Omega Speedmaster, Rolex GMT and an Orient Bambino that sells for under $200.00. I’ve also had my share of Casio sport watches over the years which I treated as tools of my healthy lifestyle, running and gym workouts. This is the basis of my love for exceptional time pieces. Whether millenials could feel the same only the manufacturers can determine through focus groups and targeted ad campaigns. “Time” will tell.

  • Meerkat

    I don’t mind the celebrity endorsements. But I could be turned off of a watch if I thought the celebrity was a nit wit.

    • Word Merchant

      Around 99% of celebrities are cash whores who’d wear, do and have sex with anything that paid and increased their exposure. The other 1% are probably ok.

      Rather than buy a watch because some idiot ‘actor’ was paid to wear it, achieve the same effect by writing ‘I am gullible’ on your forehead in permanent marker.

      • mtnsicl

        Oh, like you’re better than all those celebrities out there? Believe me, if you were a celebrity, you’d do the same thing. You wouldn’t blink twice if a watch company wanted to pay you a few million to slip a watch on your wrist once in a while. You’re a hipocrit to talk about celebrities that way. You don’t even know these people. And, even if you did, it doesn’t give you the right to judge them like that. You’re just bitter because your not as successful as them.

        • And here I am still looking for a toilet paper endorsement gig. Seems like I’m always buying too much of the stuff for my family. Can you imagine my face with the tag line “Shit Happens. Unlike a Patek, some things you don’t want to pass down to your kids”?

          • mtnsicl

            Haha, at least you don’t have diarrhea of the mouth. I have a TP sponcer, so my family and I get to wipe for free. That stuff is expensive! Did I tell you about the time I was eating a chocolate dohnut and I tried to use TP because my office was out of paper towels? It worked pretty good till I had to wipe my face. I had to throw that poor dohnut away.

          • IG

            …or “Marks In Your Pants? Mark’s Can Stop It!™”

          • “Mark my word, you don’t want this shit.”

          • Berndt Norten

            see the website of Schiit Audio for a good laugh. Safe for work…

          • Thanks – they show how to (via humor) turn what looks like a liability into an asset. And I work from home, so everything is safe 🙂

          • Berndt Norten

            Is it safe?

          • BILL
          • With my sense of humor, very little is off-limits. So yes the Schiit Audio website is “safe”.

          • Berndt Norten

            I was channeling Laurence Olivier and Dustin Hoffman?

          • Marathon Man? That’s the only thing I can think of that they were both in. I read the book, then saw the movie. Book was better of course.

          • Berndt Norten

            Our friend BILL has provided us with an image of the ‘dentist’ Olivier.

          • BILL

            Skidmark Carson’s Luxury Bathroom Tissue

          • Dare I say every luxury product needs a “back story”?

        • Word Merchant

          I think your slightly frenzied reply reveals a lot more about you than it does about me.

  • Sheez Gagoo

    I agree with the article but I iss a point: Relevance isn`t just about marketing, altough it`s a very important part. It`s also about technology. In the last decades, the Swiss watch industry invested a lot in mechanical magic and set itself into a luxury ghetto. This worked for a while but now it doesn`t. Let me explain. Some years ago, old (and now dead) Hayek told the CEO of Tissot (this guy is still the CEO of Tissot) to build a multifunctional, electronic watch. The CEO didn`t agree,” this is not a real watch”, he said. This watch was the T-Touch, which is now the best selling Tissot, altough it can`t compete with a Citizen or a Casio. So why is Casio relevant? Because Casio has watches, which can do usefull stuff other watches can`t. This is RELEVANCY/RELEVANCE. An other example is Swatch: Swatch is a fashion brand, you can experiment with. Swatch is a great brand for inovation. But where is it? Young people who still wear watches buy Fossil, Daniel Wellington or this cheap, golden Casios. Swatch was reactive to trends instead of creating them (in a bad way, when G-Shocks were a huge trend in the late nineties Swatch made a cheap digital watch without understanding what a G-Shock was about. Like they reacted with their ridiculous “Smartwatch to real Smartwatches). Now, young people put a smartwatch on their wrist and normally it`s the first watch they ever owned.

  • There’s a lot to say about this article, but I’ll limit myself to just one comment. The “luxury” watch market is increasingly ghettoizing itself at a time when economic inequality is growing at an alarming pace in most countries where people might be able to buy their products. These brands double down on flaunting their exclusivity and alienate potential customers. Unless the entire sector changes its approach it’s future look quite grim. These are, for the most part, products for the 1%, and the 99% are ignoring them, as they should.

  • Marc Matteo

    Why do you keep saying “luxury” watches? Shouldn’t there be a focus on just “watches”? Sure there are tons of “cheap” watches out there (some even mechanical), but you know what? None of these are marketed at all. When millennials get old enough to have the disposable income to buy a “luxury” watch, why would they buy one when they’ve never worn a watch or even seen their peers wear a watch? Or worse, if their only exposure to a watch was a piece of cheap plastic that they threw away after the battery died?

    Of course the “premium” brands (read: low-end Swiss) like Hamilton advertise on… racing airplanes. Who exactly is their target market there?!?

    And then, as others have already mentioned, there is the price. Simply put watches are far too expensive for what they are. Look, I like a Greubel Forsey as much as the next watch nerd, but seriously? To draw the analogy back to cars, how expensive would “luxury” cars have to be to match the price range of watches? They would be laughably expensive and no one would buy them… which is what’s happening to the “luxury” watch market.

    What the watch industry needs another Hayek to reinvigorate the “low-end” to get watches back on the write of the rank and file so that they will actually appreciate that Rolex when they have the income for it.

    • mtnsicl

      Part of Hamilton’s market is people who love planes. That’s why I bought one!

    • IG

      He keeps saying luxury watches because the wristwatch is not a necessary tool anymore, everyone has mobile phone with time, so wristwatch is now luxury/jewellery/fashion item, even £10 Seikos.

  • mtnsicl

    WTF? Ariel, you just basically told the whole watch and marketing industry, ad nauseam I might add, the industries that bankroll your life, that they completely suck at what they do. And, that you know better then the millions of professionals who are employed by these industries, and are paid a lot of money to do what they do. This reminds me of a boss I once had. When any professional would come the work place to fix something, this boss would tell them what was wrong and specifically how to fix it and he would try to micro manage them the whole time they were there. Many times the professional would leave saying something like, “well, if you know so much, why don’t you fix it?” Ariel, if you know what, “needs” to be done, why don’t you start your own watch and marketing company? And, just show us all how it should be done. My God, this is like chopping off the hand that feeds you. Someone’s head is getting rather swollen around here. I think what really needs to happen is to just stick with writing watch reviews. No one really cares about another persons opinion of what’s wrong with something or how it needs to be or how it should be.

    • BobHoover Tiangco

      Quite similar to Jerry Maguire’s midnight manifesto. While he does make some reasonable points, it does not seem very…practical…to tell these Brand’s their marketing needs a reboot. I doubt the likes of Omega and AP have hired junior varsity marketers.

      • mtnsicl

        Honestly, the article is more like a diatribe!

    • IanE

      I suspect that Ariel is responding to a rather high level of complacence (complacency?) amongst many watch executives! Regardless of which, I suspect that the watch industry is now on an inexorable downward spiral following the death of real usefulness (except for a few die-hard old-fogeys such as myself who still rely on a watch as a time-telling device as well as being a piece of art) and, at the high-end, those who love the art.

      • mtnsicl

        Ironically, there are more watch makers now than in any other time in history. Which means market share is being spread thin. It’s probably taking a good bite out of those watch companies that were once living fat. some watch companies have just priced themselves out. I myself have bought several small independent brand watches. Which has kept me from buying from bigger, more established brands. I guess I’ve done that because I can buy unique, reliable, small run watches at a fair price. Again ironically, these small independent watch makers don’t do very much marketing. What marketing they do is smart marketing. Plus, on the more expensive side, I buy nice used watches at much cheaper prices

        Industries come and go. Look at the horse carriage industry. That was once THE transportation industry. Probably in 25 years no one will be making an internal combustion engine for small vehicles. Technology marches on. You can’t blame the watch industry because people no longer want to buy something that they don’t need. Marketing works very well, even celebrity marketing. But, no amount of marketing will get the masses buy a watch that they don’t need, when they can buy a trendy device that tells time better and does a lot of other things for the same price. Again, the horse and carriage industry is a good example. And, the smart watch industry is not the watch industry. It’s the computer industry. It just so happens that computers keep perfect time. But, very few watch companies will be able to or even want to be a part of that industry.

        So in summery, to blame the watch industry for all of this is really stupid. And, you need to throw in the fact that for most people, their personal economic situation is getting tighter all the time. There are a lot of young people today that feel that less is best and they aren’t buying things that they don’t need.

    • Ariel Adams

      It is precisely because they bankroll the business that I am compelled to discuss these important topics. What’s more important? Taking the risk to discuss areas in which they need to seriously improve, or just standby quietly as the ship I’m trying to row slowly sinks? I have a duty to my self, the aBlogtoWatch team, and the industry as a whole to do what I feel is right to help make the industry better. You don’t need to agree with my methods, but I can’t see you deny the ethics of my intentions.

      • mtnsicl

        My biggest problem is that you think you know how to fix it. Ariel, you don’t how to fix it. In the first place, I don’t believe the industry needs to be fixed. I can currently buy, from the comfort of my couch, any style of watch that I want and at any price point I want. Is there a slow down? Are some companies having trouble staying a float? Well, I guess yes. That doesn’t mean there is anything wrong. Companies suffer slow times, restructure or even go out of business by the millions all time. The strong will survive and it’ll make the industry better in the end. I don’t see that people are going to just stop buying watches anytime soon, because they are outdated. A slow down my be good for the consumer. Maybe prices will come down and we’ll get more watch for our hard earned money.

  • TheBigOldDog

    I’m glad I’m not dependent on the high end Swiss watch industry. At a time when watches have become anachronisms, the Asians are closing any quality gap as the low cost producers. Precious metals have risen to the point where using them in luxury goods is difficult. So, selling watches with true intrinsic value is a difficult proposition. Everybody is producing the same stainless steel, titanium, and rubber fashion accessories. Late Boomers, Xers and Ys all look to their smartphones even when wearing watches – which they mainly wear as fashion accessories and wealth/class/value signaling. People in the bubble are ALWAYS the last to see the cliff coming hence a surprise that most people would prefer the latest $800 Samsung or Apple phone than any watch no matter the brand or place of manufacture.

    What do you think gets the biggest reaction among Millennials, wearing a Rolex or whipping out the latest iphone or Galaxy?

    • IVA the LT


      Most of those Millennials, whipping out their smartphones, are checking Instagram and Twitter, where the celebrity “idols” they follow constantly, post their photos wearing gold Rolexes….

      • TheBigOldDog

        For every Rolex wearing/aspiring Millennial there’s a thousand wearing no watch at all but they all have the latest Android or iPhone smartphone. Things change. The pocket watch gave way to the wristwatch which is giving way to the smartphone. Many of the people who wear watches these days do so for very different reasons than even 25 years ago. Their primary purpose is no longer to tell time but signaling/fashion imho. No matter, the trend is crystal clear. Fewer and fewer people in the US at least are wearing watches every day and they don’t miss them.

        Quick anecdote: We had a dinner party last night for a bunch of millennials. They all had their phones and only 1 was wearing a watch and it was a smartwatch connected to her phone. I’m a late boomer/X and was only person wearing a “conventional” wristwatch.

        • Raymond Wilkie

          What he said .

        • IVA the LT

          Wasn’t disagreeing, just saying there are exceptions.

          Just because they don’t have a watch, doesn’t mean it’s not desirable for them. It’s just something they can’t afford and it’s far down the priority list.

          I also tend to comment on these topics, as I am technically a “millennial” (though on the older edge), because just like anyone, it’s hard not to speak out about stereotypes that you perceive as negative, that do not necessarily apply to you. I definitely would have been wearing a conventional watch had I been at that party, likely making the same observation as you.

          That being said, I am self-aware, and not refuting that the stereotype is there for a reason, and does apply to the majority of my peers.

          • TheBigOldDog

            I just think it’s a trend across all generations more so than a stereotype of any particular one. There’s just fewer and fewer people wearing watches because its raison d’être no longer exists. As a collector and lover of watches I notice it because I’m always looking and therefore notice. The wristwatch has become another victim of disruptive technology imho. The one thing the watch industry has going for it is that it has never been cheaper to efficiently produce small custom quantities of very high quality watches.

          • Then why aren’t watches cheaper? The watch industry has not passed on these economies of scale, but has chosen to keep maintaining the illusion that watches cost a lot to produce. Sure, there are some that are hand made, etc., but like all luxury goods, the price is artificial. Unfortunately, when you’ve been charging the price of a car for a watch for a long time, you can’t suddenly drop the price, for fear of alienating those who bought into the fictitious pricing of the past.

          • Watch prices could be half what they are if there were no retail outlets. But you’d have to only purchase direct and on-line. No more trying them on before buying. However with good return policies (buy/try/return), this could change for on-line retailers. Sure the whole luxury buying experience is gone but at great savings if you are willing to wait a couple of days for shipping. The death of impulse buying, but most expensive watches are not impulse purchases anyway (according to a survey done here on ABTW). An for well known brands like Rolex and Omega, you are paying a lot percentage-wise for marketing as well.

          • Since it’s possible to get watches at a discount – someone who owns lots of watches told me one should never pay list price, always get around 20% off – people who know this won’t pay full price. But don’t forget that even at wholesale they’re overpriced, because you’re paying the cost of celebrities.

            There really is a glut of watches, though. Any decent sized watch dealer has hundreds of models, sometimes even more. Many of them look alike, even within a brand’s own product line. Cutting the product lines a bit would be a lot healthier.

          • I agree that pruning product lines makes sense in these lean times (for watch brands). How many Speedmaster versions does the world need? Too much choice ends up confusing the consumer while forcing the retailer to carry too much stock relative to sales volume.

          • Yes, the old paradox of choice. You can get different colors, different straps, with or without a date complication or myriad other complications, and so on. With too much choice, people buy less.

            I understand that, for some watches, you want to offer options. I think Nomos is a good example; they have watches with date, with small second hand, or without, in a couple of different sizes and colors. They’re not trying to offer kitchen sink watches, but that’s their style of design. Once you get to tool watches, there’s too much temptation to make plenty of different versions.

          • TheBigOldDog

            Actually, in general they are a lot cheaper than ever. When I started collection say 35 years ago, you’d pay a lot more for an all SS automatic diver with solid links and 300M WR, sapphire crystal than you would today. Today you can get it for as cheap as say $150. Less if you’re ok with a K1 crystal. You can buy a Sellita made and assembled dive watch as I described with an SW200 and sapphire crystal with cyclops for $269.

            True some Swiss makers don’t price their watches based on the cost to produce but use a skim pricing strategy that fits with their marketing since the primary purpose of their watches are not telling time or even fashion but wealth/status signaling. To do that high prices have to be maintained to keep the desirability among the target market. Can you imagine what would become of Rolex is they suddenly priced based on their cost to produce? Some of the Swiss makers are cutting their prices and diversifying their manufacturing and are more reasonably priced today than ever before. Some are moving in the opposite direction.

        • BJ314

          I’d go a step further in suggesting that watch companies should have been leading the way in technology. They should have been investing and buying companies that produced today’s TVs, smarthphones, computers etc, when they actually had the cash to do so.

          I like wearing watches. But the watch industry is dying. It’s never been so clear. I bought a Pebble Time recently and found myself going an entire 2 months w/o putting on a regular watch AND I was able to reduce the amount of time I spent looking at my phone. A $70 purchase on Amazon made me abandon a case full of watches.

          Its smart watches or nothing. That is the future for 99% of consumers.

          • The bar is low for you; the Pebble is pretty bad.

            I hadn’t worn a watch in decades, but I bought an Apple Watch and wore it for a year and a half, then gave it up. I realized that I liked having the time on my wrist, so I bought one watch, then a few more. (No “luxury watches” however.) Certainly, some people will find wrist computers useful, but it didn’t do much for me. And it’s ugly.

          • “And its ugly”. Thanks for calling the baby ugly.

          • Indeed. It reminds me of those early calculator watches. It’s certainly not a device one buys for its design or to show off; it’s just a bulky, rounded-edged block.

          • I wore Casio calculator watches for at least a decade. But like toilet paper (since I’ve already gone there with comments for this post), function alone does not make an item something you aspire to own or proudly show off in public. Cheers.

          • Casio calculator watches were very cool at the time, because it was a new technology. Now, we look back at the design and shudder.

          • I remember 30 years ago I asked a jeweler friend of mind (who cast in gold) if he could make me a gold case for my Casio calculator watch. He declined saying it was too hard. But it shows that even then I wanted the functionality but with a more upscale look.

          • Mark1884

            There will always be a market for high end prestige watches.
            It’s very simple…… if it was a watch that any slob could afford, it would not be special or prestigious.
            I like knowing that not everyone will be wearing the same watch I have on. I don’t mind paying for the exclusiveness of my watch brand.

            If that makes me a watch snob…. so be it.

        • Word Merchant

          Did anyone talk or eat at your dinner party or were they all glued to their phones?

  • Raymond Wilkie

    Has Bernie had a stroke and hit his head off the coffee table ?

    • Phil leavell

      No he’s just getting beat at F1

    • Berndt Norten

      Wouldn’t that lead to a weekend at….

  • Aaron Max

    There are two Watch making companies that come to mind who seem to do things right: Seiko and Casio. Granted, neither is well known for and has established their high-end offerings, yet. Seiko has been a constant innovator in the mechanical realm while Casio has been an innovator in the gadget world. They both offer excellent time pieces for most any age and income bracket, and both, now more than ever, are raising their respective bars and moving, more with Seiko than Casio, into the rarified space occupied by the high end Swiss brands. They offer great watches for under $200, attracting customers usually early in the customer’s life. They both offer those customers room to grow within the brand, to the point where one becomes either a fan of that brand or of watches altogether.

    Take the available G-Shock models Casio has released. One can buy a cool looking watch with fun utilities for under $100. If you’re in high school and want to stand out, there are plenty of colors and styles from which to choose. Then, as you enter college age, there are smart looking ani-digi that are as close to the technology norm as a quartz watch can be. Post college age, the options run thin, but it seems as though Casio is moving towards offering watches that will be intriguing to a 20-something with some income. And those that don’t stay with Casio likely take a long look at Seiko or Citizen, not Tag or Omega.

    Then we get to Seiko, who has taken chances(kinetic) and presented new technologies(spring drive) while making fantastic watches that are affordable to the largest consumer base in America. A teenager could own one, either as a gift or out of their own pocket, for special occasions. Or, a 20-something easily can afford a Seiko dress watch, be it for interviews, their new job, or just because. As one gets more familiar with the brand, the options are amazing, affordable to a point congruent with the consumers comfort, and there is always another tier to covet. The divers are top notch, with even the sub-$300 auto models performing as well as a Rolex. Then they have the various Seiko brand sub-section offerings with MSRPs from $500-2000 that would sate most buyer’s need or want for a life long quality time piece. Lastly, they have/had the Grand Seiko line, which is being off-shot from Seiko, and those watches are on par with anything the high end Swiss companies are making, with the exception of a few over-the-top Billionaire watches. They’re innovative, extremely well made, and no doubt have grail written all over them. Basically, they offer something of quality for everyone at every step in one’s life.

    The point is, if a maker doesn’t get into a consumer’s mind early, and onto a wrist early, the chances of ever having that person as a customer are slim to none. Add to that little to no advances in technology, well, you have an article we just read. I don’t know if Rolex or Tag or Omega or insert brand here can get onto the wrist of most anyone under 40. Not today at least. But if I were in charge of one of those makers, I’d look east and figure out how to get onto a consumer’s wrist as early as possible without ruining the brand’s perceived value.

  • Marius
    • IG
      • When I was a kid, if I farted my mother used to always say, “go to the bathroom”. One day I was combing my hair in the bathroom with the door open and let one loose. She heard it and said “Mark…” and I replied, “but I’m in the bathroom.” Moral of the story is you can’t please everyone even if you follow the rules.

        • …Unless you keep the bleeding (and farting) internal.

          • Phil leavell

            Oh man a fart that smells like blood just can’t be healthy

          • BILL

            And if your blood smells like farts then you need to get your diet sorted out.

          • No bleeding thank you.

  • TechUser2011

    I completely agree about your assessment of Jean-Claude Biver. He is the only one who really knows how to appeal to watch buyers in the 21st century. His signature style is to create oversized and skeletonized mechanical watches, such as those at Hublot, TAG Heuer, and now Zenith. And it works: LVMH’s watch division revenue increased 5% in 2016 while the Swiss watch industry’s revenue as a whole decreased by 10%.

    • Berndt Norten

      He alone can fix it??

  • Buy and Sold

    A lot of watches are just too expensive. The margin that they are charging because of their brand is too fat. All that needs to happen is for prices to fall in order to stimulate demand. I don’t see the same issue as Ariel with the quality of watches made today; I think there are plenty of attractive and innovative watches.

  • sethsez

    I’ll be honest, I’m surprised we haven’t seen more watch brands trying to capitalize on the same mood that’s driving the sudden success of vinyl and hand-made knick-knacks on sites like etsy: for all the garbage millennials get for being tech-obsessed, a lot of us also find it overwhleming at points and enjoy having something simpler that feels more “crafted” from time to time. The process of playing a vinyl record has a certain tactile quality that queuing something up in Spotify just can’t match, regardless of the actual sound quality.

    Shinola seems like they come the closest to understanding this, by emphasizing the locally-made aspect of it and presenting themselves as a purposeful throwback. Shame about the watches themselves, but the company knows that if you market yourself as an escape from modern technology with an honest feel made by workers who are actually paid a fair wage (regardless of how much of this is actually true), there’s a segment of the millennial population that’s going to be all over it. Most luxury brands feel like they’re made for “other people”… they’re not welcoming at all, and cheap brands barely try to justify why you’d want a watch in the first place. Shinola’s marketing department Gets It, they know exactly what millennials are looking for in a piece of expensive throwback technology and play directly into it.

    I wouldn’t buy what they put out, but there’s a reason a lot of people are, and the reality is that their marketing COULD apply to just about any other watch brand.

    • There’s a huge price gap between Shinola’s $475-1300 watches and even an “entry-level” Swiss luxury watch ~$5,000. Shinola finds much of its success in reasonable (comparatively) pricing. They’re right where Arial suggests the “sweet-spot” is in pricing to make an impact. The’re also cashing in on a very specific retro vibe, not legitimate retro heritage, but what young buyers think an old watch should look like. I also believe their success is a largely a US phenomenon. Europeans and the rest of the world don’t connect watches with Detroit or care about some padded gritty underdog backstory.

      I find it hard to believe that any amount of throwback marketing will drive the Shinola demographic to spend 4, 5, or 10 times the money to scratch the same hipster itch, with an overpriced Swiss offering.

      • sethsez

        what young buyers think an old watch should look like

        It’s not just the look, though, it’s the entire message. The top text on their site is “LET’S ROLL UP OUR SLEEVES.” The watch page says “A HANDSOME WATCH, HAND-ASSEMBLED IN 56 INTRICATE STEPS” followed by “Watches Assembled With You In Mind.” These all combine to cultivate the image of their watches as intimate, approachable, unpretentious, reliable hand-made objects, (as opposed to cold technology or haughty luxury) and that’s enough to convince a whole hell of a lot of people to spend $500-$1,200 on things they don’t need.

        I’m a millennial who’s into watches, and some of my friends get my interest as well, but for all of us it’s despite the marketing, not because of it. The appeal lies in their aesthetics, the level of quality that goes into them, and the intricacies of the mechanics that are functionally outdated but incredibly charming. They’re a respite from the ever-present march of branded Chinese technology, and it’d be nice to see that aspect of their appeal played up more.

        • We’re in agreement that it’s an effective tactic to sell $1200 and under watches. The article is about how the High-End Watch Industry (is missing the boat). My opinion is that what works to inspire a Shinola buyer to buy a watch as break from technology, or to conform to current fashion won’t be as effective (if at all) to elicit a $10K watch purchase.

          The biggest issue is that fewer people see a need for any watch. Not a $50 watch, much less one costing many thousands. If they one day decide to be a non-conformist and buy one, it’ll be cheap.

          • sethsez

            Part of the issue is that if people aren’t driven to buy those cheaper watches, to gain an appreciation for them as tiny fascinating mechanical devices and not just as man-bracelets with some moving sticks on the front, then they’ll never graduate to the luxury watches.

            Selling a luxury product is its own challenge, but first people need to be interested in the field at all. “Why should I buy a Rolex” is a far easier question to answer if “why should I buy a watch” has already been covered. After all, plenty of people through the decades have stopped buying watches when they got their Rolex, but very few started with it. More strategic branding on the lower end would lift all boats here, especially considering just how many brands are actually part of larger multi-brand groups that cover multiple price ranges.

          • I’ve got several watches, and frankly I don’t care that they are “tiny fascinating mechanical devices.” All of mine, except one I just ordered, are quartz watches; I buy them for the design, not for the number of cogs they contain (which I’ll never see anyway).

          • My cars sales advisor (god, I hate that – they used to be salesmen) used to drive a BMW M3. Then he drove an i8 for a while. I asked him how he liked it and he said that yes it was very quick but without the sound and sensations of his M car, he felt it was not as satisfying overall. He is back to driving a non-electric car again. All of which is to say that the mechanical nature of what are “toys for boys” in many cases are what make items more desirable than a modern high tech solution – such as a quartz watch. I have a number of quartz and mechanical watches and my Victorinox Inox is the only quartz that I wear these days. And that is less than 1 day per week. Winding bring an inanimate watch to life and I love to admire the movements via the exhibition backs. To each his own, so good on you for your love of quartz. But without mechanical movements, only a few watches will actually sell for a grand or better. Cheers.

          • Mark1884

            Mark, I agree with you 100%!
            There is just something special about the co-dependency that we share with our mechanical watches.
            My watch depends on me to wind it, either by actual winding or wearing to power it up.
            I depend on my watch to provide me with the time and date. The watch also compliments my manner of dress, as an accoutrement.

            Sorry, no quartz soulless watch can accomplish that!!!

          • Mark1884

            If you dont care about the movement or “cogs” as you put it, you are a “fashion” watch person. Designer watches with cheap quartz movements are great for you.
            Shinola would be perfect for you. They market to people that dont know much about watches, or care about what is inside of them.
            They are becoming very popular here in Detroit. However, Shinola did just get slapped, for claiming the watches are “made in Detroit” They are not- only assembled in Detroit.
            Personally, I think they are a joke.
            PS: quartz watches have no soul.
            PPS: I am surprised that you are reading this blog?? This is aimed more towards watch geeks.

          • I think Shinola watches look like overpriced Timexes…

            Automatic watches have no soul either.

            I appreciate the design of watches. My favorite right now is a Junghans Max Bill. It has a quartz movement.

          • Mark1884

            Well….. at least we agree on the Shinola watch.

      • Phil leavell

        Check Shinola website the entry-level watches such as Hamilton. Are nominally cheaper, and when you add in shipping and taxes they’re more expensive then I can buy in jewelry store here in Canada there you go. Millennials won’t spend 1000 2 $2,000 on a watch

    • mtnsicl

      They should be called shitnola!

      • sethsez

        I’m talking about the marketing, not the watches.

        • mtnsicl


          • sethsez


          • mtnsicl


          • sethsez

            Thanks for your thoughtful contributions.

    • There are tons of micro brands, many of which start on Kickstarter, that are attracting the younger clientele. They actually seem more exclusive, because they are like “craft” watchmakers. And most of them have price points well below $500.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    We had a comedy show on tv here recently with a guy called Harry Enfield. Him and his comedy partner had a sketch they use to do playing 2 people who recently come in to a lot of money and took great pleasure in walking around with the catch phrase ” We are considerably richer than yeeeeeew “. It was very funny when it blew up in their face one day……………anyway, the point is that forever past and forever forward till we blow ourselves up their will always be the haves and the have nots. Am hearing a lot of people moan here.

    Know your place and stop moaning is really the crux of this comment Buy into it or jog on.

    • sethsez

      Seems to me a good deal of the moaning is coming from the companies who’ve been elevating their prices higher and higher only to see their profits fall and many of whom have had to get bought out to survive. “Buy it or shut up” isn’t the best approach when it turns out the public is willing to call that bluff.

    • Berndt Norten

      Sounds like you’re invoking the great Dwayne Johnson (aka The Rock), and his old ditty: ‘know your damn role’

      • Raymond Wilkie

        The whole ditty ,…..yes

    • IG

      Put the proles in their place you Glaswegian hardman!

      • Raymond Wilkie

        I’ll get all Billy Connolly on your ass ! 🙂

        • The Deplorable Boogur T. Wang

          ‘es daid.

          • Raymond Wilkie

            ‘es naw

  • Beefalope

    “Thus, watch brands should produce watches with relevant prices (under $1,000 or maybe $2,000) that are of high quality with a good design, that millennials can afford now, or in the near future.”


    • Heh… he thinks that “millennial” want to spend that much on a watch. They should produce watches under $500 that are nice, and that have some kind of allure. Young people today have too many demands on their income to blow that kind of money on a watch.

      • Beefalope

        Those are all valid points.

        The reason I think that he does have a valid point is that some young people would like to buy that “one nice watch,” and $1k to $2k may be their limit.

  • Chemistman

    Great write up. Don’t know why there are so many haters when it comes to this topic. Very valid points expressed here, well done.

    • IanE

      I guess it reflects what a difficult state our beloved watch companies are in – I’d love to hear responses from some senior watch execs!

      • Chemistman

        “Raise the price, more sportsman, more celebs”

    • gw01

      (maybe because the same could’ve been said using way less words, and a much more simple language?)

  • Steverino

    Think about the watch you bought when you were 20 years old. Likely that’s what most millennials, who aren’t obsessed watch nerds, are looking for. Reliable, fits the lifestyle and the modest budget.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    Until yesterday i had never heard of Millennials now everyone is saying it

  • TheChuphta

    Mr Adams thinks that the biggest problem with the watch industry is innovation and marketing… He might be fueled by a bit more than unshakable amount of blah blah blah. What’s left to innovate? This one tells time in two time zones and backwards in a third dimension. These are gizmos. They are anachronistic and overpriced and underperform by any given standard. But they’re neat. Rich people like them. Better marketing will make more almost rich people like them. That’s it. We don’t have to pretend that this stuff is actually important.

    • Ariel Adams

      For many people watches continue to have an undeniable appeal. Marketing should be designed to remind people of that emotional appeal, and enhance it. Marketing isn’t a replacement for research and development when it comes to the products themselves.

      • But marketing is all there is. There’s no room for innovation in design; everything has been done (and, arguably, a large percentage of watches are ugly). All they can do is try to convince people they need something, unlike, say, 20 years ago when they tried to convince people that they needed a better/more attractive version of what they already have.

        • IanE

          I can’t agree that everything has been done – you only have to look at the Indies to see that there is lots of scope for innovative design. It’s just that there is very little of it at the moment amongst the more main-line companies. AP, with its endless string of Royal Oaks, for me, typifies the stuck-in-a-rut nature of so-many watch companies.

        • ene

          I think the future of watches are those who have lighting like the Casio and Timex.
          These watches could even be mechanical, but they should also have a battery-powered lighting system.
          I’ve worn many watches, but today I use only two. A Casio G-Shock and an Orient Type Submariner. The funny thing is that when it gets close to 6:00 PM, if I’m with my Orient, I immediately switch to the “enlightened” G-Shock.
          Watches that one can read in the dark is the future.

          • Mark1884

            Sorry but cannot agree. Gadget and cheap techno watches will never replace the high end prestige watch brands.

            Like is too short to wear a garbage disposable watch.

      • TheChuphta

        Mr. Adams, thank you for responding to my unnecessarily snarky comment.

        I wholeheartedly agree about watches’ appeal, but I think if an entire industry’s main problem comes down to marketing then that industry might simply be creating a product people don’t need or really want.

        Everyone knows what a watch is and most everyone knows what an expensive watch is. The problem arises when people are first exposed to just how expensive they are for what they actually do. (How many forum posts are dedicated to justifying the cost of these things to co-workers, spouses, etc?)

        Marketing has been known to work wonders (see De Beers), but would it really be a “good” thing if everyone was convinced that we needed to spend one month’s salary on a watch (as far as good and bad enter into the politics of consumerism)? I’d argue that would just be fraudulently propping up an industry that needs to evolve or die; I don’t see a marketing miracle being a legitimate evolutionary trait for a whole industry.

        I’ll end by hijacking Raymond Chandler and say that internet arguing is as elaborate a waste of human intelligence as you can find outside an advertising agency.

        • I don’t know about your monthly salary but in some cases, the stuff I like is priced significantly higher than mine’s. For the price one pays for some high end watches, one can get a really nice car, a very decent watch and a decent condo while still having some cash leftover to celebrate the acquisitions of each of those things with family and friends at a decent restaurant.

  • Richard Baptist

    Great article should be mailed to the heads of all watch companies. I’ve said over and over that I worry about the future of the watch industry. They don’t seem to have the ability or desire to attract new, young customers. Any industry needs young customers as they mature and make more money they move up the watch purchasing chain to have the ability to buy the high end watches that the industry has settled on. With the exception of Nomos, no one seems to be trying for this market. The result is poor offerings at the low end. Wow a three hander in steel. Part of the attraction of a mechanical watch is the mechanics! We need manufacturers to realize, that the designs have to bring something different to the table. Whats the difference between a three hander and a smart watch? Nothing. Have a watch with the mechanics exposed and a smart watch can’t compete with that. Don’t get me started on marketing as you say (love or hate him) JCB gets it. He knows how to market in this environment. The Tag smart watch is genius in that it can move between a mechanical watch and the smart watch. He is always in the watch media. To tell you the truth, I can’t think of the name of another watch executive. Well my god son is graduating from high school soon is off to college and I’ll try to talk him into a mechanical watch, with no help from the watch industry.

    • Noms isn’t going for young customers, they’re going after affluent young customers. That’s the whole problem with this industry. With the exception of those brands that are well implanted with a product line that spans all price points – think Citizen and Seiko – very few “high-end” brands care about being affordable. One exception might be Jungians, a brand intelligent enough to release quartz versions of some of its watches at more affordable prices, but still much more expensive than a nice Citizen or Seiko (or G-Shock).

      • Richard Baptist

        Agreed so can this industry survive without grooming customers? Is the assumption that having never interacted with horology, they’ll start in their 30’s? I don’t see it.

        • Perhaps the thought is that their income will increase and they will then want to buy Rolexes. But we’re seeing that their income isn’t increasing.

  • In addition to the many other valid comments here, the article does not point out that there are only two target demographics for many high-end watch companies: those in the 1%, and watch geeks. I’m a recent watch convert (well, I’ve recently returned to wearing a watch after a couple of decades) and reading any of the watch blogs (via Watchville), I can see that those are the people being targeted. No normal person cares about in-house movements, and no normal person can afford a watch at $1000 or more (and fewer would even spend more than a couple hundred dollars). These companies are living in an echo chamber, where they see the interested their watches inspire among “collectors,” but ignore real people.

    When you go to a jewelry store to look at watches, you’re overwhelmed by the number of brands and models, most of which, within a few different types of styles, look alike, so there’s not much reason to pay $1000 for a watch you can get from another brand for $200. There’s a serious disconnect in this industry which lives large and thinks that everything will be just fine. I suspect that they mad lots of money from bankers for a while, and that faded away, then they made a lot of money in China, but that too is fading away. They’ll be left with aging formula 1 racers and actors, and no one will really care when they fade away.

    • IVA the LT

      “No normal person cares about in-house movements, and no normal person
      can afford a watch at $1000 or more (and fewer would even spend more
      than a couple hundred dollars).”

      Give it time my friend. I felt the same way, now I don’t, and I’m pretty “normal”.

      First you will find a watch online you REALLY like, that retails for comfortably over $1,000, but can be had for far less for whatever reason and you will talk yourself into it. At that point, you will likely start to appreciate the jump in quality from those “couple hundred dollar” watches and you will feel validated in your purchase.

      Then, at some point, as your interest grows, you will find that while an in-house movement may not “matter” per se, you begin to appreciate what it can signify about a watch/brand, and may see extra value in a watch you are seeking that happens to have one.

      Finally, you will reach the point, where even if you won’t find yourself in the position to purchase one, you will see the “value” in what some high priced watches cost, even though you are a “normal” person 🙂

      • At my current income, I doubt it. There are some more expensive watches that I like – I’d love to buy a Nomos Tangente – but I’m simply not willing to pay that price.

      • Sevenmack

        The “value” in some high priced watches and brands lies in the after-care. The reason why Rolex can get away with its high prices is because of the great service that comes after buying the watch. This is also true for nearly every high-level luxury brand. At a certain age, usually around 40, you learn that free has its own price tag and cheap can be quite expensive, especially when something needs to be fixed or replaced; better to pay the price upfront than pay much more later.

        The problem is that there are few brands that measure up to Rolex on that front. It is harder for those brands to justify the high price tags when they can merely go to Rolex or spend less and get a less-expensive watch. A key solution to the problem for many brands lies in addressing the after-care they provide to the consumer after purchase. But that, unfortunately, requires size and volume, something that only seven brand families (most-notably Rolex) have in spades.

  • Pascal Fabre

    I think the article overshoots the target: you can’t make relevant what is not relevant anymore.
    This same article could be made about VHS tapes of portable CD players. The world simply moved on.
    It’s useless to point out that we have watches and clocks everywhere, most of them radio-controlled, so having a watch is pointless in the first place.
    Just go out in the street and count how many people have watches: one out of two/three? How many of them have luxury watches? One out of 20/50?
    The “industry” does not have a problem of “relevance” or to make their products likeable: they live out from (pathetic) people like us who still thirve about timepieces and from very rich, bored, people who simply buys all kinds of stuff.
    The world, simply, doesn’t care about watches anymore.
    One final note: I add myself to the ones saying that it’s not possible that _ALL_ the marketing people in the watch industry is dumb and pursue losing marketing strategies.
    Can you imagine that? Marketing summit at (insert major brand here): “Ok guys, the situation is critical, what do we do next?”. “Let’s go on with the usual crappy stuff and wait for Ablogtowatch to thrash us”.
    Come on…

    • I would think you’re overestimating the share of the “luxury” watch market (a term that needs to be defined). More like one out of 1000, if even that.

      As for marketing people being dumb, no, there are plenty of brands that are doing well. I would guess Swatch, Casio, and Diesel are doing fine. The dumbness is in the isolated cocoons of luxury brands.

  • “I say all this because in order for a high-end watch to be considered a
    luxury product, it probably should not call itself a luxury product.”

    This, this and double this. Ditto the use of “Professional,” or “Limited,” or any other qualitative moniker that attempts to set a product apart from the competition by merely *telling* the consumer that it is apart from the competition.

    Remember the 1980’s Cola Wars and the Pepsi Challenge? Pepsi consistently came out on top when consumers completed the taste test, but to this day, Coke retains a vastly higher market share. You can tell me Pepsi is ‘better’ all day long, but the numbers show it’s clearly not.

    What’s the “best” luxury watch brand on the market? Rolex. Argue all you like, but they sell more watches than any other single brand, ergo, from a marketing standpoint, they’re the “best”. Whatever they have done, from brand ambassadors to sponsorships to ads in National Geographic, the world has been conditioned to believe that Rolex = Success, and, regardless of how many millennial hipsters there are at Whole Foods rocking a Timex Weekender on a rainbow NATO strap, that global perception is not going to change anytime soon. Does that mean they can rest on their laurels? No, because they WILL lose market share to any other company that is willing to pander to the next generation’s sensibilities, and let’s face it, those sensibilities are going to include, if not revolve around, tech.

    But the perception of “success” is very different than the perception of “cutting edge” and we can sit here all day and discuss in-house movements and the fascination with the intricacies of the watchmaking art, but if you walk into a Rolex boutique with the intent to purchase, it’s because you want a piece of jewelry on your wrist that says “Rolex,” not because you’re particularly fascinated with the Parachrom hairspring. Sure, tech companies have their fanboys too, but if you’re wearing an Apple watch, it’s likely because you own other Apple products and are familiar with the platform, and not because “Apple” says more about your individual success or social status than does “Android”.

    It doesn’t matter how far the world moves forward technologically, jewelry will always occupy more than a niche market and let’s face it, high-end watches are jewelry for men – they honestly serve no utilitarian purpose anymore. There are six separate digital time telling devices on my desk right now alone; I’m not wearing a watch because I need to know the time.

    • The Deplorable Boogur T. Wang

      “Sell the sizzle”
      Image is all in the marketing world – no matter the product or service.

  • TheChuphta

    Am I insane or is the basic tenet of successful business to make a product people want at a price they can afford?

    Since this article is mostly about business, let’s leave horology and history and passion and the souls of mechanical watches at the door. Frankly, in modern times a mechanical watch is obsolete and the pricing is ludicrous. Marketing’s b.s. alchemy of celebrities and bespoke curated lifestyle choices and pretty ladies etc etc etc can’t change those basic facts.

    Omega can put a picture of Rafael Nadal on a jetski fighting the Loch Ness Monster with a Seamaster on his wrist on as many billboards as they want; when someone sees the price of that gizmo most people are just gonna laugh and move on (and that’s about as cheap as the big boy watches get).

    • Luxury watches are for people who don’t need to ask the price. And for some collectors who have bought into the whole “amazing technology” thing.

    • kgibbs29

      “Am I insane or is the basic tenet of successful business to make a product people want at a price they can afford?”

      I cannot speak to your sanity, but what makes a business successful is making a product, or providing a service, customers may or may not want; i.e. they may need; at a price the customer is willing to pay.

      • TheChuphta

        Thank you. I know you’re busy needlessly clarifying the obvious, but could you spare the time to define “Tedious” and “Pedant”? So helpful. Thanks again.

    • Bozzor

      Prior to the quartz revolution, a fine mechanical chronometer by Rolex could easily be justified for pilots, engineers and sailors. But since then, a $5000+ luxury mechanical is simply status – the high price is part of the appeal in a perverse way. It’s no different to jeans: I have a pair of Kirkland Signature jeans and other pairs from Fendi, Roberto Cavalli and other high end makers that are no better at protecting me against the elements, are actually likely less long lasting and no different in ensuring I don’t get arrested for public indecency. Logically, those jeans make no sense. But there are many fools like me who can easily be parted with their money with a trick add campaign that builds on a brand image…

  • Mr. Snrub

    Millennial’s are broke. We bought into the lie that a university education meant a guarantee of gainful employment rather than crippling debt.

    • Bozzor

      No guarantees unfortunately, only increased probabilities overall. Fingers crossed that things pick up on the pay side…

  • denisd

    Great piece, very insightful. I do think you dismiss microbrands a bit to fast when it comes to engaging new customers, millenials included. The dynamics there (from kickstarter to irdering through social media) are far closer to new watch buyers than are Apple stores.

    • Jonathan Smith

      I agree. While we can go on and on about these “luxury” watches, fact is that there are also multiple microbrands or even fashion brands that millenials on a lower budget can accessorise with.

      • And these micro brands aren’t just “me-too” watches; people buy them because they like the design, not because they say Rolex. It seems to me that younger people – at least those not working in areas like finance or law – want to avoid that brands that seem old and stodgy. And I would think that most “luxury” watch brands have that image to them.

  • niteowl360

    Ariel Adams is someone I follow closely.
    I have a fascination with watches in a particular sense.
    One thing I’ve noted over the years whilst following Ariel is the often inexcusable low response to his informative posts.
    I suppose I’m guilty of that too.
    So, this time around I complement Ariel for a record breaking response to another well written article.
    Much of the enjoyment I get from watches is directly attributable to the expertise and polished articles of Ariel Adams.
    Thanks again!

  • johnwithanh

    Wow one of the rare moments when school echoes the real world.

    I recently finished a millennial marketing campaign for Rolex in b school (we could pick any consumer product so I picked one that was harder than, say, Apple or Nike). One of the many things we found is that many luxury watch companies don’t have the right ad mix to hit their target demo. One watch marketing habit is to advertise where they have advertised in the past, which leads to lots of print. Not exactly a news flash, but if you’re targeting folks under 40, ads on paper isn’t a good route. Additionally, it doesn’t allow for precise targeting or any ability to engage the viewer further (e.g. click this and you can see more about how our product is awesome and perfect for the image you’re trying to develop and present to the world). Another key shortcoming is luxury watch brands’ failure to leverage user generated content. As a 30 something, I’m much more likely to identify with a regular person on Insta that hustled hard to get what they wanted as opposed to a famous athlete or actor. I’m never going to be famous, but I know if I work as hard as @_____ I too can reach their level and buy ___.

    Rolex holler at me!

    • N T

      I’ve built several user generated content systems for some of the largest publishers on Earth. Why have you never used them? Luxury brands are super paranoid about their brands, because after a certain point it is all they have.

      Seems like you might want to appreciate what prints means more than not. The Rolex adverts in online media are actually very engaging, even though I find Rolex to be tacky and what people who want to look successful wear when they don’t know better – you know like LV, Tiffany, etc… anything you can buy at a mall isn’t luxury. Period. Or as one famous person once said, what is the point of a 20k dress if 3 people at the party have the exact same on one.

      Lastly, just because you don’t read Monocle nor The Economist now doesn’t mean you wont at some point, if you really are in the demographic able to afford one.

      I am not making fun of you, I promise, but what I do find funny is that you think that because you do not see them the adverts are not there. Did you ever think the adverts are exactly where they should be, you are just not in the right place to see them?

      • johnwithanh

        Thanks for the only slightly patronizing reply, and I don’t want to get into a slap fight in the comments but I think we’re missing each other a bit.

        A few things about me. I’ve been a Millennial apparently my entire life (wow time flies) and subscribed to The Economist in print since my junior year of undergrad before switching over to digital only. There’s the rub. Print magazines are as dead as the trees they’re printed on for people under the age of 35. And that’s true up and down the income ladder.

        There’s a time and a place for print ads, but if you’re trying to target younger people they’re a waste of money. I know the ads are there. I’ve seen them. They look nice. I’m sure they’re doing a great job, but they’re for a different demo. If you’re shooting to get into the consideration set for the people that are going to be entering their prime earning years very soon, that’s not the medium to use.

        Rolex/Tudor do create pretty compelling digital ads. That’s doubly true when you compare them to collateral from other brands. I’ve seen those too they’re in just the right places.

  • Phil leavell

    I read this article no less than 5 times the undertones and the eloquence of which has been written. Speaks volumes. Also in the infancy of my watch collecting the things I have read on this blog including input from people in general . Has seriously sped my knowledge & understanding also art of watchmaking. The relevancy of witch is the fact I will not part with my hard-earned cash or something I feel is overpriced . The other thing I find relevant is my son who is millennials enjoy timepieces that are minimalistix and inexpensive. The article is written to cause stimulation and get insightful feedback for the industry. And maybe arouse them to take a new Direction then again I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed

  • N T

    I think this article misses the point of owning a high end watch. I have multiple nice watches but can I get a 10$ watch to tell me time better and maybe even beep? Sure but I also have a nice car not an old beater, because while many people might think it is that I want to show off or something it really is nothing about you. It is about how much fun it is to drive a car with 500 HP and I look at my wrist to see the time lord knows how many times in a day, and I want to see something pretty. I also have an apple watch that sits on my desk, sure it does more, but it isn’t pretty – at all.

    Whomever wrote this is likely not an engineer or an INTx, it might be hard for him to appreciate that the beauty of something is not in what it does but how it does it.

    Moreover, true luxury brands want you to know about them, but not really. This is how it works, if you can get it at a mall it isn’t luxury. If you another person with that thing in your life it isn’t luxury.

    I have a wallet, hand made in a small town in Italy, and it has traveled the globe with me for 25 years. I once saw someone with the same brand wallet in a ski resort out west and we instantly talked about the special place we got it, the man who makes it, etc… I have a pen that I bought in a small town in France and when I use it I can close my eyes and recall the heavy smell of flowers in the morning air.

    I can go on, but if you want to get an idea of what luxury is really about, what the old Jaguar adverts : this advert really sums it up.

    Or the old standby that has been in/on The Economist forever, you dont own one you look after it for the next generation… who is really going to care about an apple watch in 6 months? But something that tool 10 people 6 months to make that is designed to last for 100 years it the antithesis of the modern culture. Now, to me, that has real appeal. No I wont buy a new damn apple thingy every year, I bought a Patek or an Omega and someone in my family will use it to get to work on time long after I am dead.

    • I think the minority of people who think this way is decreasing fast. Younger people have far too many financial demands, earn less than us older people did at their age, and simply don’t care about such high-priced items. Interestingly, they do care about hand-made goods, which are making a resurgence, but at much lower price points. I think to a lot of young people, the idea of an expensive watch, like a Rolex, is something from another generation that they don’t want to emulate.

      • Marc Matteo

        Worse is that as a Gen Xer with a healthy amount of disposable income, *I* won’t spend the money on a Rolex and literally no one else in my circle of well-paid Gen X/Y people will either. No one cares what’s on your wrist anymore so the idea of a watch as some kind of status symbol has been lost. Therefore the value proposition — meaning does the perceived value match the item’s cost — doesn’t work any more.

        What’s left are people — like me — who think mechanical watches are fascinating works of engineering, but that’s not nearly enough to justify the cost of a “luxury” watch when there are so many excellent examples of fine watches at literally 1/10 of the price of a Rolex.

    • Gokart Mozart

      That advert just says if you have enough money you can get a beautiful guy or girl and you can have lots of fun.

      Nothing there would make me want a Jag. A couple of the girls maybe but not the car.

  • Itsguy

    Are you paid by the word Mr Adams? Try writing down your argument in bullet points and then expressing it in as few words as possible.

    • BBJG

      Seriously. This was the most naked attempt to reach a word count I have seen since high school.

      • Ariel Adams

        Lol. That’s cute. I don’t pay myself by the word.

  • Ulysses31

    The problem with pushing the luxury angle, as the watch industry did after the quartz crisis to push profitability, is that in the same stroke they destroyed their relevancy. Luxury items are, perhaps by definition, not relevant or necessary to anyone. Whereas before “tool” watches could be justified for various professions and were priced at a level where they could be a justifiable purchase, now they are far removed from that. The watch is a fashion accessory, little more, and thus at the mercy of the fickle and ever-changing tastes of the consumer.

    I have loved watches since I was a teenager. Maybe it’s the engineering prowess, or the knowledge that at a mere glance of the wrist I can feel secure about how I am spending my time. Perhaps it’s the beauty of having something with a pure, singular purpose. There is something about perfection in that; something which smartwatches totally miss the point of. I’d rather own a master of one task than a jack-of-all-trades, master of none. I also wouldn’t want a spanner with a pencil-sharpener in it, but I digress. My point is, for me the watch I own has to be seen to have utility, and something that is intended to be purchased and owned, not merely ogled through a shop window because it has a completely unattainable price. So much of what the Swiss churn out now are no more than the result of competing in a willy-waving contest. Who can make the thinnest, the lightest, cram in the most tourbillons etc, for no added utility but merely to jack up the price, and i’m not falling for it. These are the watches forever to be ogled but no serious person with grown-up problems and a real life to lead would give them more than a moment’s consideration.

    For watches to be relevant again they must be made attainable by people other than oil-Sheiks and Chinese property millionaires. Maybe once these watches are finally in the hands of the average consumer they can learn to appreciate all the refinement and quality and convert new people to the hobby. As it currently stands, I don’t see this happening. The Swiss are content to fiddle while their industry burns around them, and while competition from the masters of mass production is rising from the East. They are evolving faster than the Swiss, are more determined and driven and eventually, inevitably, will catch up, just as they have already become the prime innovators in the cellphone business. Think it won’t happen? All it takes is time.

  • DaBkr

    OMG. So many issues with this piece almost impossible to begin. Some points
    A- the writer obviously had the standard high school paper writing premise drilled into their skull.’tell them what you want to tell them, then tell them, then tell them that you told them. Oy.
    B-Timex has been successfully marketing an inexpensive military homage watch to young kids. They did this a few years ago as well through stores like j. Crew. Was it innovative? No. But what’s so innovative about hublots big bang? ( the most innovative thing about it is how they get away with such asinine prices for a ‘look’ with no concept, history or much style, at least imo.

    C- ignoring the vintage watch market is a HUGE missing part of the authors premise. Milennials want to be different then their parents? Really? They idolize our music. They manipulate our styles, songs, sounds, causes and turn them into something that is relevant to them. And I mean no disrespect. I just think that since the baby boom generation, younger groups have not really innovated much I terms of cultural change. They have definitely fit our style into the new digital virtual life that they live in but the music, the clothes and the watches(if they care about them) are the same. In fact- the only real innovation is, unfortunately for a lot of the less relevant watch companies, the incorporation of’watches’ into smart phones and smart watches. Are they real watches? Not to me but at least it’s innovative which is what the author is complaining about.
    . But the vintage watch market( which I have been avidly involved with for over 35yrs pretty much disputes all of the authors problems with marketing strategy. I can absolutely tell you that the Monaco” Steve McQueen wrist is VERY relevant to milennials(like my 2 daughters)
    . Tell the space/astronaut watch fanatics who are paying often $4000+ for authentic vintage space related watches that they aren’t relevant.
    . The vintage industry is actually like high octane fuel getting milennials totally hyped up to wear something’authentic’ . And if they can’t afford it, well then we go back to the Timex, Seiko, even omega model and put out homages which have little to do with innovation
    D- innovation I the mechanical watch industry is usually doled out in very tiny incremental doses which typically excite watch enthusiasts the same way a slightly new clutching system excites a car enthusiast (both in the golden era of cars and watches and now)
    Examples could be Omega. Exploding back into prominence after their embracing the Daniels co-axial escapement. Or didn’t hurt that they paid homage to their iconic SM300 as will even if they did recently offer a less innovative, more exact homage to the Dane watch.
    . There is the amazing computer generated silicone hairspring. It’s amazing but try and get a millennial psyched about that! Rolex ( which in itself is a complete refutation of authors premise in almost every respect is an entire article and too long for here) bit Rolex has accomplished innovation, appeal to certain milennials and marketing genius that is unsurpassed(and you can hate Rolex and still agree that they are accomplished)

    . The age of mechanics gizmos , one off creations that look like amusement park rides.. All of this ec virtually will fade as a craze. Maybe add a craze representing the excesses of celebrity uber-wealth culture. But the basic watch, wether a PP celebrate(the ONLY calatrava), Sub, Speedy, rectangular dress, Big-ass chronograph (elP, Daytona, etc, will live on. As will the still and forever underestimated by many watch snobs….Seiko. In fact, if I had to predict which company is most likely to innovate I would bet on Seiko in all depts. Marketing to function and relevance.

    E- the author repeats the premise WAY too many times. In fact I had to start skimming to get to any real meat. The offering of examples was far too skimpy and I felt this urge to push writer aside and finish the damn thing myself.

    F- brand ambassadors. Of course of a watch company pays a rich asshole to wear their watch there is a good chance milennials will reject it as a goof, an embarrassment or, if their wealthy enough as a short fad. (Cue up so-called designer watches )

    G- a watch is never going to become a flying saucer. Every teen understands this. It isn’t going to be more accurate the the atomic time app. It isn’t even going to be made as beautifully as your average omega or longines was in the 50s (except for one off companies) But, like shoe laces and tailored jackets they have their place. You can use Velcro and buy a quartz or a cheap suit and it can be totally relevant . But if kids want the real thing, they will have to get an actual watch. It will have to embrace the age old concepts of being beautiful, being affordable for the market its aimed at and having enough quality to justify each brand/models target. A datejust will still be one of the most popular watches in the world and still feel exclusive and a PP will always be exclusive while Seiko, as brilliant as they are and have been for decades, will represent quality, design but never the exvlusivity (unless your a fanatic) of the Swiss brands

    And I could go on, and on. But I thankfully won’t

    • Sebastián Lemaître


      • R.J. Kamatovic

        I read your response, with more attention, interest, and admiration than anything written in the above article..

        I have always said how I find ‘Blogs’ irrelevant, and tend to rend toward collectors forums, and in-person collectors events… the “self important” blogger seems to de-legitimize everything pure about collecting… and then to be so arrogant as to offer a ‘cure’ for the current crisis is another reminder why I so rarely visit sites as such…

        But I think you hit on some very germane point here… the commitment to quality is what will weather the storm (provided the investment capital is there) ..not flash in the pan marketing , and allying with websites…

    • R.J. Kamatovic

      my response was meant to be directed to @DaBkr:disqus

  • DG

    It’s not that hard to figure out. Lots of people are building crap looking watches with marginal engineering improvements for 10’s of 1000’s of dollars and when people go “mehhhh no thanks” the manufacturers are confused.

    My son is 20 he likes to wear a watch for knowing what time it is, not as a statement. But 90% of his friends don’t wear any sort of watch, Rolex or Timex. That is where general watch buying is heading, into the abyss.

    In 10 years time high end watch buying will plummet, just like saddles and buggy whips.

  • JF Schnell

    Give people affordable watches and people will buy it. The same error was done by the music industry with the advent of the digital. It’s all about pricing. Who is going to save his entire life to get a luxury watch these days?
    This industry has to come to its knees to understand the real world and the real people.

  • BBJG

    This article was way too long and repetitive and repetitive.

    • Esteban

      I will tell you about it further on.

  • Jorge Robles

    Yes, too long and repetitive, and also failed to state which in his opinion, was the specific action that needed to be taken in order to stay afloat.

    • Ariel Adams

      What some see as repetition is my way of trying to state the main idea a few times in different words. In my opinion sometimes the main point of an argument can easily be lost, so repetition is important.

      There is no “one size fits all” solution to create relevancy for brands. It is a process which requires a strategy, plan, and implementation. These are things brands either do wrong or don’t do at all. The point of this article is to express the point that many watch brands are under-performing (to say the least) in these areas. The solution is to put more effort and resources in to “real” marketing. The specific solution is derived through practice and effort, and will be different for each company.

  • trxtr

    It looks to me like the main idea of the article is: everyone in watch industry should do as Swatch did. No doubt, they were very successful with their moves. The major problem is that all this ideas are several decades old.

  • commentator bob

    The problem is that the most successful mechanical watch company on earth does the opposite of everything Ariel says. It lags the market in innovation. It releases a constant slow trickle of references to the past. It literally is your father’s Rolex.

    Sure what works for Rolex might not work for other companies. But it is not surprising to see the other companies benchmark themselves against the industry leader instead of a blogger’s advice. Especially when that advice contradicts itself with talk about innovation being critical but not being high tech (the key modern innovations like silicon escapements are high tech).

    For anyone else that made it to the third page what Ariel says about the word “luxury” needing to be killed in order to save it is spot on.

  • Esteban

    “Young audiences of all generations are essentially the same, in my opinion. They want to reject the values of their parents (at least temporarily)”
    I’m not so sure. Who over perhaps 30 didn’t always wished to wear their dad’s Speedy? Kids these days only want a better cellphone. That’s the status symbol for them.

    Millennials CRAVE vintage items, in their perpetual search for authenticity. The author is ignoring this completely (but never pretended to dive into it, he’s just talking of luxury brands). Hell, Casio even released a “vintage” line of gold and silver new-old watches that are selling like fresh bread with the young people!

    So, vintage items will be ok for a while, but new watches won’t, because nobody is buying them enough for them to become vintage one day.

    Watches have it very hard, I think they’ll eventually disappear completely into smartwatches, mobiles, implants, whatnot.

    P.S. Maybe a decent writing course is in order, Mr. Ariel? No offense intended, but you write some very long and repetitive pieces that lack structure and are, well, a pain to read. I’m sure you’ll benefit from it!

  • Nutty

    I realized a lot of baby boomers are clueless in regards to what we want.

    Ariel Adams hit the point that us Millenials have been trying to get across to the watch companies – fair pricing or gtfo.

    When a watch brand is selling a steel watch with an “in-house” movement made by Concepto and selling it for more than $10,000, this reeks of profiteering. The very thing that Millennials are trying to avoid.

    For the record, we do not like all your music. You don’t see us listening to the Carpenters or Bee Gees. We only like those that sounded good while under the effect of substances.

    Also, fashion and music are secular. If you have been around long enough or have studied history (instead of living in it), boomers will realize that a lot of things will come back in style eventually.

    As for me, I am one of the rare breed of collectors and even then, I only collect Omega and Rolexes. I sold off my other stuff as they look cheap even though they cost more than my Daytona.

    Stealth Wealth? Oh puhlease, you are targeting the wrong generation if you think we want something that costs $20,000 but looks like some cheap Michael Kors watch. You can market the white gold to the coffin dodgers. We will stick to Yellow Gold, thank you.