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Editorial - A change is coming

Editorial A change is coming

Are we moving into a new watchmaking age?

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m feeling very excited to be a part of the watchmaking industry right now. For a few years back then, it felt like things were stagnating, like companies weren’t doing anything very creative anymore. 

The market slowed down again in 2014, and it seemed everyone was backing away from doing anything cool or interesting, opting instead for safe, commercially-oriented products. (Not that there’s anything wrong with safe, commercially-oriented products, just that they don’t exactly keep me up at night, let’s put it this way.) 

I started to get a little cynical about the business; I made jaded remarks about how soft market conditions were reinforcing the stranglehold that uber-corporate leadership had over product development and strategy. It happens. We all feel like this sometimes, especially us angsty writer types with degrees in liberal arts and humanities. The good thing is that it started me on a whole journey of thought, leading me to explore questions such as “What makes a good watch?” and “What makes a successful watch?” and perhaps most importantly, I wanted to know if those two answers were the same.

Currently, based on some straightforward observations about recent fine watchmaking releases in the market, these two questions have different answers. The things that we, as an industry, agree are good things to have in a watch — refined mechanics, high levels of finish, proportionate design — don’t always translate to commercial success. 

This drives me crazy, for obvious reasons. And when I present this conundrum to people around me, the best explanation they can offer is that customers aren’t adequately equipped with the right kind of watch education or critical faculties to tell good watches from bad. This is a good and bad answer — it’s good because it accurately addresses the issue, and it’s bad because this is not a useful answer unless we’re prepared to do something about it.

People are starting to do something about it. Recently I was at the Bucherer boutique in Geneva for the launch of their certified pre-owned watch department. This is something I’m incredibly happy to see, because it acknowledges the importance of the secondary market and emphasises customer experience. This is part of an overall change in approach that will enable us to align the currently discrete spheres of “good watch” and “successful watch”. 

Just last year I delivered the keynote speech to the various research and innovation departments of a major watchmaking group, and the topic was customer-centric processes. I came away greatly inspired by the efforts being made behind the scenes to adapt traditional watchmaking to modern audiences and their needs.

Another recent development that gives me a lot of optimism is the rise in crowdfunded watch brands, which we can all agree in principle should enable more creative watchmaking. I’ve been informed by one of our partner brands, Sequent, that they have pretty much blasted through their Kickstarter target and are anticipating some smoking hot levels of consumer appreciation. 

What does this tell me? That more and more people are interested in watches, mechanical or otherwise. That companies are starting to actively cultivate this interest and foster internal practices that will augment customer engagement. Here at WorldTempus, we’re wholly on board with this movement (pun very much intended). If you’re not yet as excited as we are, you will be soon enough. 

Brands

Bucherer combines the best traits of the Swiss watch and tourism industries, having honed its experience in offering warm hospitality and excellent service over the past 130 years.

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Sequent has revolutionised the smartwatch world by creating the first models that can be recharged using the natural movement of the wrist. Borrowing the principle of a winding rotor from...

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