Is history a thing of the past?

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Is history a thing of the past?

Post by koimaster » May 7th 2019, 3:28pm

For luxury brands hoping to engage “new” consumers, heritage and tradition are apparently more hindrance than help. Really?

In the fourth volume of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the dolphins depart Earth with the message “So long, and thanks for all the fish.” Must we say the same frivolous goodbye to history, heritage and tradition in watchmaking, consumed by the flames of social media? So it would seem from Deloitte consultancy’s latest analysis of sales by the 100 largest luxury goods companies globally. One remark in particular makes the blood run cold: “The reality is that ‘new’ luxury consumers only care about the brands that have created value for them in the last 24 hours.” Centuries of history dismissed in one click. These days, the culture of immediacy isn’t just for shareholders, hung up on the latest quarterly figures. To exist, you have to be born yesterday.

A closer look at Deloitte’s ranking and it’s tempting to buy into this reality. Of the nine Swiss companies in the Top 100 – all in the watch sector and all but two privately-owned – age counts for nothing. The proof: Richard Mille, a brand established in 2001, has been recording 15% sales growth for years. In 2018, it generated some CHF 300 million in revenue. As for the Franck Muller group and the eponymous brand, established in 1991, Deloitte calculates 13.2% growth in sales for FY2017. Only Audemars Piguet, in existence for 144 years, can stand comparison with a 12% rise in sales for the same period. Neither Rolex, nor Breitling, nor even Patek Philippe measure up.

You can always argue that these brands have different business models, positioning and distribution networks, there’s still no getting away from the fact that Richard Mille didn’t get where it is today on the back of tradition. But what about the vintage tidal wave sweeping Planet Watch? Whether as a thriving pre-owned market or deliciously retro styles, vintage takes its source in the past. Hence brands would be wrong to disregard the way things were. What matters is knowing how to use this heritage wisely and not just in endless marketing messages. History is a gem that must be allowed to shine. For those who know how to use it, it is the voice of truth. ... -the-past/


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Re: Is history a thing of the past?

Post by Hawk » May 8th 2019, 1:24pm

It wouldn't trouble me to see history and heritage take it in the teeth to some extent.

Mostly because it's been misused, jacked-up, made-up and viewed selectively albeit mostly by dweebs looking to differentiate mid to high-level brands using it as a criteria.

Leaving Ball, Invicta, Ingersoll and the like out of the equation the most apparent to those of us that gained an interest late in life was A. Lange & Sohn who had about the same amount of history as any other zombie brand. They were founded in the 1990s for all intents and purposes and were differentiated from Invicta only by having some shirt-tail relative on display. They didn't even get driven out by the "quartz crisis" as they were pretty much atomized during WW2. Yet they rank high in most "history and heritage" listings which seems to put all such listings into question.

Rolex is a relative newcomer to the Swiss watch scene compared to Patek et al but that seems not to have troubled them at all. Hell, Rolex hasn't been around as long as Seiko if we're to actually look at how long someone's been selling timepieces.

Cecil: to take it into a non-watch sort of historical side note - the oldest family owned company is Beretta, founded 1526. This resulted in some humor when they were relatively new here as one wag suggested he'd prefer Remington knowing they had been around far longer than the upstart (Remington 1816). Well, I thought it was funny anyway. Thing is though I've never heard of anyone buying a Beretta because of "history and heritage" though some few might exist if they're trolling the Beretta boutiques for some six-figure shotgun or trying to talk the family out of the Diana Set.l

There's older companies but I believe Beretta is the largest if one counts only continuous operation owned by the family.

No proper Brit ever bought a Beretta over a Holland & Holland because of the former's heritage. Personally, if I'm still alive and some portion of the 401K remains (unlikely) I'd love to see what Beretta comes up with a "500th Anniversary Special" in 7 years.
And the fact I'm still living rent free in his head makes me grin and giggle.
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