Was the new millennium watch revolution a fad?

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Was the new millennium watch revolution a fad?

Post by koimaster » April 21st 2022, 10:55pm

From 3t


There is very little new content and new watches being introduced and discussed are few and far between on forums or fb these days



Contrast that with the fervor in the watch community from about 2005-2015, and something significant seems to have happened.

So, my questions are:

1. Is the boutique-brand watch industry dead?

2. What do you think caused the watch boom of the 2005-2015 time period?

3. What do you think brought it to such a drastic slowdown?

4. Are you still as passionate about watches today as you were then? If not, why?

My answers are:

1. Yes, I believe it is dead.

2. For me, multiple things happened that I think contributed to it. The most significant of which is that I stumbled on some people selling watches on ShopNBC. Being a bit of a geek, I love the technical precision mechanical watches require. In 1999 my father gave me an old, gold pocket watch (AWWC) circa 1890 if I recall correctly. At the time I stuck it in a drawer to protect it but failed to appreciate it. From visits to the Biltmore House in Asheville, NC (US) I learned that while it was being built, only the wealthiest in the US had electricity and that house was actually built using AC and DC power, which were competing technologies at the time. That we have the technical prowess to build a mechanical watch now is of no surprise to me. But that a mechanical watch built in the late 1800s (not to mention 1700s?), a time when most didn't even have electricity, blows me away. Within months of discovering the ShopNBC watch shows I popped the case on that pocket watch and the craftsmanship was spectacular! Simply beautiful.

There also seemed to be an explosion of small boutique brands coming onto the market that lowered the price barrier for me to enter.

3. I really don't know what happened to the boutique brand watch market. I would love to hear from some that have forums here at this website. An obvious event to point at would be the near financial collapse in the US. I don't know how significant that was to the rest of the world. Did that alone cause the collapse of the boutique brand watch industry? If it did, it would seem that the financial recovery the last few years would bring it back.

Or did we just become bored with it?

For me, I think I became very satisfied with the watches I owned. I have about 24 watches, ranging from about $150-$700. Of those, I wear 3 or 4 regularly and have come to realize that the likelihood of buying another watch that I like as well very low.

4. I still love watches. I still love the craftsmanship and technical achievement of them. I still find it very very interesting that the time regulation of the power source occurs on the other side of the hands! I doubt I would have ever thought to do that. I'm pretty sure my thought process would have been; power, regulation, display and certainly not power, display,

OK, you caught me. I did buy one of the Seiko cocktail watches, the brown dialed one, for Christmas a year ago. But other than that, nothing for years, I swear. Or do I?

What do you think?
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Re: Was the new millennium watch revolution a fad?

Post by Nuvolari » April 22nd 2022, 8:06am

Perhaps the market has become so saturated in units for a finite number of buyers that most enthusiasts have been able to, over the last decade or so, acquire what they want?

Remember when it used to be difficult to get a “Badass Seiko Monster”? Now you can have whatever the hell flavor you can conjure (no offense, John)…

BUT, you gotta “pay up, suckers”…. And if you have been buying over the last decade you may find today’s diminishing returns on high pricing to be off putting.

Personally, I think it would be great if a lot of those newly aware of mechanical watch fans were to burn out and move on to other hobbies. Like - try golf. That way I’m unlikely to see you again.
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Re: Was the new millennium watch revolution a fad?

Post by jason_recliner » April 22nd 2022, 1:17pm

I'm not on FB or Reddit but apparently there's a lot of watch content on FB. That may be reducing activity in 'traditional' forums like WUS. But I feel like there is a new micro-brand dive wartche every week.
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Re: Was the new millennium watch revolution a fad?

Post by koimaster » April 22nd 2022, 2:27pm

jason_recliner wrote:
April 22nd 2022, 1:17pm
I'm not on FB or Reddit but apparently there's a lot of watch content on FB. That may be reducing activity in 'traditional' forums like WUS. But I feel like there is a new micro-brand dive wartche every week.
watch content on face is mostly groups with photos of watches. Very little interesting discussions. Almost like people have watches but know virtually anything about them including the ones they own. But to each their own.
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Re: Was the new millennium watch revolution a fad?

Post by 3Flushes » April 23rd 2022, 4:21am

Anecdotally, it appears to me that fewer of the youngsters are wearing watches at all anymore, even smart watches, and while sales of the Apple Watch remain strong, I suspect the majority are sold to 30 -35 + year olds.

The affordable boutique brands attracted a younger and less affluent demographic than did the mid tier and luxury watchmaking old guard. A large number of "enthusiasts" seem to have lost their enthusiasm for watches and have moved on to new fascinations as was the case with the cigar craze.

Boutique buyers that remain horological adherents appear to have refined their buying sensibilities accordingly as the financial health of mid tier and luxury brands, in addition to the birth of many boutique brands that adhere to higher standards of watchmaking - and therefore sell for higher price points - that appear to be thriving would seem to attest.

And while it seems that a new crowdfunding project or micro launches on the hour, I suspect they cater primarily to those in a demographic who grew up wearing watches and wish to continue to wear a watch that appeals to them for whatever reason without breaking the bank. I reckon most of the Kickstarter and micro crowd meet with moderate if any success and there is certainly no shortage of cons.

As to the watch market in general, Since 2015, the upper limit of the market in the OP, watch sales rose steadily through 2019 peaking at 73.3 billion USD until the pandemic hit in 2020 sharply dropping sales which were down in 2021 as well, to 55.99 and 66.38 billion dollars, respectively. Statista estimates that 2022 watch sales worldwide will reach 73.16 billion, with 18. 27 billion of that generated by the luxury segment, slightly bettering pre-pandemic sales. Statista is currently projecting that watch sales will reach 88.94 billion dollars by 2025.

So while a large segment of boutique brands may be DOA (I couldn't find any reliable statistics that break out micros and boutique brands), folks are certainly continuing to buy a shitload of watches, and the projections for growth are highly optimistic for the foreseeable future. At least until the youngsters have kids and sew On, that is.
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