There’s A Watch Retail Tsunami Coming

There’s A Watch Retail Tsunami Coming

Postby Racer-X » May 17th 2017, 6:46pm

by Ian Skellern "Watch brands, retailers, distributors, and collectors alike have known for at least a decade that the internet will revolutionize watch retailing just as it has already revolutionized books (Amazon), music (Apple iTunes), television and films (Netflix), travel (TripAdvisor), and so much else.

And while collectors have been hoping and praying that the revolution comes sooner rather than later, leading to better value for money (and perhaps a better buying experience in general), brands, retailers, and distributors have basically crossed their collective fingers, squealed ineffectually about the grey market that they created and continue to nourish, and with a few exceptions just hoped for the best.

Look how that turned out for the music industry.

But over the last couple of years, and even over the last few weeks, there have been ripples in the watch retailing universe – a trickle of initiatives that may (or may not) quickly turn into a flood. I am predicting that as soon as a few more major high-end brands embrace internet sales on a user-friendly, multi-brand platform, the flood gates will open.

Here are a few of things that you may have missed but should be aware of:"

Article at Quill & Pad

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Re: There’s A Watch Retail Tsunami Coming

Postby biglove » May 17th 2017, 8:20pm

But will the prices drop significantly once the distributors and retailers are cut out of the loop. If that really were to happen then the price of a Rolex should drop 40-50%. I will believe that when I see it.
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Re: There’s A Watch e,Retail Tsunami Coming

Postby conjurer » May 17th 2017, 9:50pm

There are, alas, too many high-end brands chasing too few customers, as (apparently) the well-heeled Chinese are now forsaking luxury goods and instead investing the money they stole from their slave-laboring lowlife workers their income in real estate.

The fact that Richemont layed off over two hundred watchmakers from Piaget, Cartier and, incredibly, Vacheron Constantin, bodes ill for the luxury brands; these are not wetback laborers who push a broom, either--these are highly skilled craftspeople who will not be easy to replace if, say, the Chinese decide they want Swiss watches again. I recall reading in one of the trade rags, not more than five years ago, about the manager of a VC boutique in Hong Kong emailing his company headquarters in Switzerland, "ship more tourbillons," as they kept selling out due to nouveau riche Chinese millionaires lining up to buy Vacheron tourbillons.

All good things come to an end; there are only so many rich Chinese or Russian plutocrats who can buy the inventory of Vacheron and Piaget, and sooner or later they're have their fill of fine watches. And Richemont objective, just like Stuhrling's, is to move product. The only way to do this is either direct to consumers (with a hefty savings) or gray market (with an even heftier savings.)

Not too long ago Omega sued Costco, for selling gray market watches in the US; not too surprisingly, Costco won, as they had legally bought a shitload of Seamasters from a gray market seller and could whatever the fuck they wanted with them. Not long after, Omega start leaning on a lot of their retailers, telling them they had to carry in inventory a lot more product than they had before, or they could fuck off--apparently to make their own single-brand boutiques the only place to buy, at least in the US. We all know how that worked--you can buy a new SMP at Jomashop for peanuts, less, surprisingly, than jamokes are selling them on Watchrecon used.

Rolex, of course, is a different story. They are a much stronger brand than Omega--indeed, they might well be the strongest brand on the planet. I don't see Rollie getting super cheap as gray market--but you never know.
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Re: There’s A Watch Retail Tsunami Coming

Postby TemerityB » May 18th 2017, 8:17am

You're spot-on about Omega, conj. Couple years back, Omega just disappeared from my favorite AD, because "they're staring their own stores." A few months ago? Omega is back at the AD as if nothing has ever happened. In short, I'm a huge Omega fan, but they're not Rolex as much as they really want to be.

If Rolex prices don't drop, there's always the freakin' huge secondary market of pre-owned, which these days is an industry in and of itself.
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Re: There’s A Watch Retail Tsunami Coming

Postby foghorn » May 18th 2017, 8:24am

My watch guy used to be an official Omega SC but when they expected him to move Omega warranty work to the front of the line (he's a busy shop) he told them to pound sand.
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Re: There’s A Watch Retail Tsunami Coming

Postby conjurer » May 18th 2017, 9:42am

TemerityB wrote:You're spot-on about Omega, conj. Couple years back, Omega just disappeared from my favorite AD, because "they're staring their own stores." A few months ago? Omega is back at the AD as if nothing has ever happened. In short, I'm a huge Omega fan, but they're not Rolex as much as they really want to be.

If Rolex prices don't drop, there's always the freakin' huge secondary market of pre-owned, which these days is an industry in and of itself.


I'm a big Omeger fan myself, but it's also useful to look back at the "Omegamania" at Antiquorum in 2007. Shill bidders working for Omega succeeded in driving up bids, including pretty new models (in some cases still available in stock at ADs) that had no special provenance, well past the actual MSRP. Omega said this was done to acquire pieces for their own museum; others felt it was a pretty transparent attempt to drive up the price on secondary markets, allowing Omega to boost their MSRPs higher.
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