Watches are under pressure. First, it was the arrival of the iWatch causing concerns for the industry, but the iWatch, so far, seems to have merely opened the path to more smartwatch collections by many of the famous brands. Both high-end and middle class.
But it’s the shift in culture and what we like to spend our money on today that dictates the market. And that seems to have created a need for cheaper and smaller watches.
Frank Geelen is one of the many experts in the watch industry. And his view is that there is a lot of demand for cheaper watches. That doesn’t mean that now everyone is looking for some cheaply produced non-brand from another country than Switzerland. No, in fact, the existing brands, are still popular.
Take a company like Baume & Mercier. They are known throughout the world. Classic and a much-loved brand by Baby Boomers and Generation X are still thought to be of value to the newcomers on the block: Millennials. This brand has developed a much more affordable collection. Even if €2000,- is still a lot of money, of course.
But there are more causes for the decline of sales and the need for more affordable watches; such as the Swiss Franc being overvalued and extremely strong. And the Chinese market showing its first decline due to several factors. But also, the economy may seem to recover right now in countries in Europe and the U.S. but there are many economists that warn for another crisis luring and some say it’ll be worse than the one of 2008. We are clearly in a phase where so many things are changing rapidly. Technology, a change in what we value due to Millennials and the crisis itself. But then there are more insecurities such as the rise of new economies and what that means for countries such as France, the Netherlands, Italy and so forth. What do they need to focus on? What is the wisest path to walk in order to create a stable future for a country?
All in all, we all know very clearly that we really do not need to spend a hell of a lot of money on watches. Watches are all good today. I know, a handmade watch is something different than a Swatch or a Michael Kors, of course! But they all do what they have to do and in that sense, there are no bad watches today (or at least, a brand has no excuse to produce any)
The popularity of large watches has finally come to an end. 42mm instead of 44mm is becoming more and more popular. For many people, health applications such as counting steps, heart rate or sleep, has become ever more interesting. Especially the Millennials have developed a love for both technology and health.
There is an upcoming trend for storytelling in any industry. Some claim it is already everywhere but most brands could still use some education in this field. With our longing for individuality and need for authenticity, there is a new market opening for handmade watches. Especially young designers and watchmakers are creating a limited amount of watches and sell directly to their customers, using the power of social media and the internet.
Like the jewelry industry and many other industries, it’s the very high-end of the market that still stands firmly on its feet. Rich people have apparently only become richer and they still buy the high-end watches and so forth. It is, once again, the middle class, suffering huge changes.