Of bricks and paper, clicks and storms

Of bricks and paper, clicks and storms

Postby koimaster » November 27th 2017, 12:49pm

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As a reading of this issue’s Time.Business substantial “Brick & Click” dossier will reveal, watch retail is truly in the doldrums – or, more accurately, in total disarray.
It finds itself not at a turn in the road, but at a crossroads of a hundred and one different routes. Should it take the traditional highway, lined with solid brick-and-mortar buildings, some of which, despite being brand new, are now falling into disrepair like ancient mausoleums? Or should it leave the physical world behind, metamorphose into electronic impulses and speed from click to click across the immense and limitless skein of the internet, hoping to catch something in its nets? Or should it take one of the narrower paths that wind through the long grass, follow the wind, become a nomad, open pop-up stores and invent new ways of doing business?

The crossroads of indecision is peopled with hordes of people beset by doubts, unable to make up their minds. This way, or that? But the right answer to this question is not binary. The answer is more likely to be an “and” rather than an “or”. The solution is to choose a physical road, and at the same time to explore the virtual sphere.

In short, we need brick and click, as one of our correspondents succinctly puts it (read our interview with US consultant Steven Kaiser). The watch is a material object, and an object of desire, that needs to be touched, felt and tried on the wrist. And we need brick-and-mortar locations in order for this to happen, as well as to be able to compare this one with that one. When it comes to actually buying the watch, that’s where the clicks come in. You can’t have one without the other. Any retailer who refuses to countenance both these options is doomed. Operators who confine themselves to a virtual showroom will find that many potential clients vanish into thin air.

Nevertheless, for the time being, the brick-and-click landscape is something of a jungle. Yes, we are at a crossroads of indecision. New rules will have to be created, and the brands that come out on top will be those who understand that, while they can’t survive without bricks, they also need to be very active with their clicks. Physical retailers, whose bricks provide the venues for the material experience, play an essential role as influencers, advisors, guides and… after-sales service points! (We will be devoting a future dossier to this “blind spot” for the watch industry.) Abandoning the bricks would be suicide.

We could say the same about our own role as a publisher. Instead of bricks and mortar, we have paper. But we also have the clicks. We are convinced that, without a parallel virtual presence, paper – a long-term medium – cannot survive. But without paper, online journalism – like a tap that is never turned off, forever emptying into the drain of oblivion – is condemned to an ephemeral and transitory existence. Yes, we need breaking news – it ensures we remain relevant – but we also, if we aspire to longevity, need reflection, analysis and perspective.
And for this reason, paper – or brick – remains the best vehicle for weathering any storm.
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Re: Of bricks and paper, clicks and storms

Postby foghorn » November 27th 2017, 1:11pm

I would never,ever, make a "high end" watch (or any other) purchase on-line. It's the main reason I do not,and will not, own a Rolex.
The 3 occasions where I thought I might finally take the plunge were all at brick and mortar AD's. On each occasion when I compared a Rolex with offerings from Omega (twice) and Breitling I ended up buying the alternative based on fit,finish,value,looks,movement and aesthetics. Resale value is never a consideration when I buy anything since,at the initial point of purchase I have no thoughts of "renting" the item.
Brick and Mortars are invaluable resources for higher end purchases.
Your mileage may,and will, vary.
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Re: Of bricks and paper, clicks and storms

Postby SynMike » November 27th 2017, 3:03pm

Thanks for the post. The whole issue of the magazine is useful for me as I work with my friend deciding what direction to take his little watch store. It doesn't give us any answers but helps recognize many of the questions and concerns.
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Re: Of bricks and paper, clicks and storms

Postby TemerityB » November 27th 2017, 3:50pm

foghorn wrote:I would never,ever, make a "high end" watch (or any other) purchase on-line.


That's me, too. My rule of thumb used to be "nothing over $500" online. That rule has now been changed to "nothing online." I really mean it - no more online purchases for me, except for trading with people I know (which obviously includes our auctions and the like). Once I had an AD back a purchase of mine, my whole mindset changed. I know of people who have complained of "snobbery" with some watch retailers, not to mention those who refuse to budge from list prices - both worthy arguments against buying in a store. Maybe I've just been lucky, as I'm living in a city with so many options and choices. And maybe I'm a stone fool, as the most money I've ever spent on a single piece was only about four grand. HIgh horology probably isn't in the cards in my particular neighborhood, but I do admire it nonetheless.

The article snippet that koi posted surely raises some interesting questions about how watches will be sold in the coming years - cripes, probably as early as next year. Already, this year we've seen some pretty tony brands decide to sell their wares in the US through portals such as Chrono24, which is something I've never seen happen before. Lesser brands have now opted to actually sell through Amazon, and in turn are offering full warranties with the purchases.

The phrase "pop-up" in the article is really an intriguing concept, and I saw it work like gangbusters just a few weeks ago here in NYC at the Worn & Wound event at Chelsea Market; for two days, the place was so busy you could barely walk down the aisles, and they were selling Dan Henry, Orient, Stowa, Oris, and other brands right off the tables. In New York at least, you'd never know there was a "slump" in watch sales in the least. Promoted and run properly, these type of special events are not only fun for mokes like me that like to touch and ogle all the stuff, but I'd wager they're a home run for a lot of the brands as well.

Funny thing, though: All this angst over how watches are going to be sold - but every single product you can name is going through the same quandry, from newspapers to spatulas. The world is changing, and not necessarily for the better, in the retail landscape. Yet, cripes, I'm so fucking 1940s: If someone sells me something I came in for, treats me well, and remembers my name the next time I show up, I'll be damned if they haven't made a customer for life - which is short, and this is a hobby, and hobbies are supposed to be fun.

One question: Where was that article from?
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Re: Of bricks and paper, clicks and storms

Postby koimaster » November 27th 2017, 5:45pm

The article is from the pug's least favorite rag, eurostar or something like that.
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Re: Of bricks and paper, clicks and storms

Postby biglove » November 27th 2017, 7:23pm

I have no issue with buying online. Of course some of you have underwear you bought back when I was still in diapers. ;)

As long as the seller is rock solid, saves me money and time. Now, that being said, realize my nearest Rolex AD is 90+ miles away. Same for Breitling. Omega AD is at least a four hour drive.

No GS, Certina, Oris, Roamer, Patek, etc etc etc is anywhere close. 5+ hours to Dallas for anything like that.
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Re: Of bricks and paper, clicks and storms

Postby Thunder1 » November 27th 2017, 7:37pm

biglove wrote:I have no issue with buying online. Of course some of you have underwear you bought back when I was still in diapers. ;)

As long as the seller is rock solid, saves me money and time. Now, that being said, realize my nearest Rolex AD is 90+ miles away. Same for Breitling. Omega AD is at least a four hour drive.

No GS, Certina, Oris, Roamer, Patek, etc etc etc is anywhere close. 5+ hours to Dallas for anything like that.

In a similar situation...while there are official Rolex dealers in Austin(25 miles from home), most everything else I'm interested in is online..
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Re: Of bricks and paper, clicks and storms

Postby bedlam » November 27th 2017, 7:49pm

I like dealing with brick-and mortar stores where I can.

If I find a deal online I will offer my local store an opportunity to get my sale if they can get within 30% of the online price. Sometimes they can't, sometimes they can. It's not unreasonable to make them the offer though.
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