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How can this multi million dollar watch industry be sustainable?


Dilly
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Morning all. 

I took delivery of a Casioak yesterday in a muted yellow a bit to my wifes surprise. I am 45 and Ive been into watches since I got my first 'how to tell the time' watch with the red n blue minute circle. Then probably aged 8 looking in the shop window at a casio under water in a fish tank and asking Santa for one. My watch count is up to about 44 in total, a few inherited, most bought by me, total value about £10k, mainly affordable, Seiko, Hamilton, Smiths, Rado etc. My two kids, 12 and 13 have their own little little 3 slot watch case. A basic Casio digi, Rolex (Invicta) and a Lorus military day date on a school uniform matching Nato which is their school watch. 

One of my kids teachers commented on his watch the other day, he thought it was a bit flash on the striped Nato thinking it was something more than a £20 watch from Argos (dunno who is putting their kids to school with an Omega etc!). Anyway the teacher is about 30 years old. He thought it was odd that a kid was wearing a watch, the teacher uses his phone. 

Eventually my point: My kids only have watches because I am an enthusiast and I know thats why we are all here. But how long is the future of watches going to last? I can understand how the big boys like Rolex, Patek etc could continue to produce extremely high end 'luxury' items, yes they tell the time but they are just an expensive item that some can afford, they dont 'need' them. 

My biggest thought in the future is for the affordable watch brands that I buy, Seiko, Hamilton and some I dont which are a bit more expensive, Longine, TAG, Breitling etc. 

Surely the generations coming through wont touch a watch. A lump of metal like half a handcuff strapped to your wrist all day that you have to wind up, hack the second hand at the 12 position, wait for the exact minute to strike, probably refering to your mobile phone! then screw in the fidly crown and do it all again in a couple of days. We can see the time everywhere these days watches arent needed. We probably love watches because we have grown up with them and aspired to many types, brands etc. Im not into candle snuffers, pill boxes etc that come from an era before I was born in the same way kids arent really into watches. They are into phones that tell them the time and also a lot of other info, some of which they shouldnt know yet!

I can see how even affordable watches like my nice Seiko marine master 200m will work in years to come and be of interest but surely us watch enthusiasts arent enough to keep the horilogical monster business model of the likes of Seiko and Swatch group afloat forever?

What are your predictions for the watch industry future? 

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It's an interesting thought, but I do think that for a lot of men, a watch is (and will become moreso) something for dressing up.

A lot of today's teens will not wear a watch day to day for telling the time, their eyes seldom leave the phone screen so why look away from one time telling device (that is constantly exactly right) to another (that is considerably less accurate) to check the time.

But those same teens will happily strap on a shiny watch when they are going out for the night or invited to a wedding or a party of some sort.

I think there will always be a handful of "watch people", those that like watches and generally wear one every day, but evolution over time will see that aspect become an ever decreasing percentile of the population. 

But given the limited scope for men to dress up in terms of jewellery, I think the watch still has a lengthy future as a viable commodity. 

 

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If you are paying above 100 quid for a watch then it is jewelry. Watches are becoming less about telling the time more about the bling / label etc etc. 

It's already true in wis circles as well with so much snobbery and look what I got'ism about the place. 

I of course am perfect in every way and suffer from non of the above faults at all :tongue::naughty::laugh:

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The world of work changes things somewhat. I bought my first proper watch (a Skagen) when I started work. Because looking at your phone to tell the time makes you very unpopular. Most of the younger people that I work with have Apple watches or similar and are swiping away at them. Unfortunately its become socially acceptable to do that. You can't beat a single function item, and I'm sure that consumerism will make people keep wanting them. We don't need watches, much like we don't need most things. Pyramids weren't needed to bury the dead, but they built them anyway.

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Ok, here we go.

Like them or loath them, Omega and Rolex probably do more to keep mechanical watches alive than they are given credit for. Their "in your face" advertising makes them inspirational, (think 007) and if you can't afford one/don't want one, they lead you in to look at other brands. There will always be peaks and troughs in watch sales, the last one I remember was 2007/8 when the @r$e fell out of the property market. From my own point of view, the zenith in mechanical watch manufacturing was post WW2, when accuracy became affordable, and despite such boasts as "Co-axial Movement" and " Superlative " the percentage increase in reliability and accuracy falls way short of the percentage increase in marketing hype. We're in interesting times just now with a property boom in full swing, which if history repeats, will come to an end, then start all over again as if nothing had happened. Luxury watch sales will take a dip, then recover. As in the period leading up to the "Quartz crisis" we now have a plethora of small producers churning out their microbrand offerings. These small producers, like their pre quartz predecessors, will probably be the first to vanish like snow off a dyke.

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My guess is watches will survive at all prices, albeit perhaps on a smaller scale.

Apparently books, vinyl and probably several other devices should by now only be found in museums but surprise surprise they are still around and doing quite well.

As the world continues to see more and more millionaires,  I am sure the top end of the watch world will be OK and I am sure brands like Casio and Citizen will be around long term given low prices and young people seeing them as trendy objects as opposed to a useful tool object.

Perhaps it's those lesser known watch brands between £1000 and £10,000 that may struggle if the young future generations fail to see the beauty of an automatic watch.

Edited by AlwaysAlba
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They are so well integrated into jewellery shops stock that they will never drop so far in price that "the bubble" bursts. 

Even if people stop buying them over a period in time, when they do start buying them again, the price will still be "economically balanced" to inflation etc because they can sit on their stock and have pristine vintage.

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Not sure what the scene is in the UK but there is a rising group among da youf in other parts of Europe who are seeking the more...manual....mechanical (I can't quite get the term) experience and mechanical and automatic watches that just tell the time are quite a big part of that. Strange as it may seem, uncomplicated, good quality watches are espoused as a good thing by many neo-Luddites (yes, it really is a growing thing) and the hundreds of little spin off movements that circle around it.

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Were into luxury item territory. People buy these things for a) enjoyment and b) flexing. 

The watch industry isnt going anywhere. There are plenty from the younger generation coming into the industry that are ditching apple watches and still aspire to own a luxury item. Its no different to nice cars or clothes. 

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