What is a watch microbrand anyway?
A definition is an excellent place to start. Microbrands are cropping up all over. Consider for example,
- Craft beer establishments
- Independent jewelry makers
- Custom knives
- Bespoke suit tailors
- Bespoke motorcycle builders
- Swiss watches
Definition: A microbrand is a company that manufactures small numbers of premium products. They typically sell their wares direct to consumers and offer prices well below what the big brands charge. To sum up a microbrand’s characteristics, they:
- Focus on premium products
- Offer unique designs
- Sell in smaller quantities, often limited editions
- Appeal to people seeking that individual touch
- Sell direct-to-consumer, typically online
- Strive to build direct relationships with their customers
- Often provide superior customer support
- Charge less
Why is there a need for microbrand watch companies?
The big name watch companies use an old-fashioned way of doing business. They pump out blah designs, spend lots of money on celebrities and pretty faces to convince you to buy, then mark the watch up six times before it reaches the retailer. As a result of this, premium Swiss watches are priced out of reach for most people.
For hundreds of years, this has been the case. Watch freaks, collectors, enthusiasts, and people who want a Swiss watch have been held captive, forced to pay the big price or do without. There were no alternatives.
Until now. Microbrands are tearing down these walls and stirring things up. You might call them iconoclasts.
Watch microbrand funding
A logical question at this point is, “How does a microbrand get money to operate?” Banks aren’t interested. They are risk averse and prefer safer investments in “stodgy,” but established companies. The growth of crowdfunding has unleashed the power of microbrands. And, what better approach for a company looking to break the old way of doing business than to use the new way of raising capital?
With a microbrand, the old advertising slogan, “We cut out the middleman and pass the savings on to you,” is accurate and correct for once.
Watch quality versus status symbol
People buy watches for various reasons, but a big one is as a status symbol. We have to tip our hats to the big brands, they have built a massive brand reputation and paid to become a status symbol. Well, their customers have paid through extraordinary prices.
Of course, there are many other reasons. If you are going for status, you are better off with a name brand watch. On the other hand, microbrands trade status with exclusivity and quality. Microbrands frequently offer value and quality equal to or better than the status symbol watches. The goal is to give access to more people.
Microbrand watches and big brands frequently share the following characteristics:
- 316L stainless steel
- Sapphire crystals
- Rugged construction
- Quality Swiss movements
Who builds watch microbrands?
Its small team of young, passionate watch enthusiasts that typically form watch microbrands. Individuals who have found a lack of watches to suit their needs, taste, and budgets. This combination of needs and desires drives innovation, producing unique, high quality and practical designs.
Being enthusiastic about watches themselves means, they were constantly confronted with the often-shocking cost of owning premium watches as well as the torrents of stagnant and repetitive designs. This is why some microbrands have made it a mission to change the possibilities for their fellow collectors and enthusiasts.
What to look out for when purchasing from a watch microbrand
Jumping on a fantastic microbrand comes with some risks. Not all crowdfunding campaigns end up delivering the promised watches (or other products). Some companies are unscrupulous and never intend to meet the campaign commitments. Saying this, many successful microbrands have started on crowdfunding sites. The best advice to manage this risk is to research and do your homework.
To make it a little easier, here are a few basic pointers for what to look for:
- Where does the movement originate? A cheaply made movement will be sourced from China, and although not always the case, it's often one of the first red flags.
- Look for premium, Swiss Made, and Swiss Parts movements. One of the main reasons for buying from a microbrand is to access these movements affordably. Plus, these movements can be repaired if anything goes wrong. That may not be true for other movements.
- Where is this watch assembled? Read between the lines, as companies go to great lengths to disguise that their watches were in fact, made in China. Often, creative marketing and wording such as 'designed in...', is used which says nothing about where its produced.
- Whether or not a company is new or has a track record is a useful indicator. Just keep in mind that every microbrand was a new company at one time. Research as much as possible. It’s a bit of a gamble but could be well worth it.
- When becoming part of a crowdfunding campaign, research the crowdfunding company itself. Established ones like Kickstarter and Indiegogo do a pretty good job weeding out the bad guys. If you’ve never heard of the crowdfunding site, proceed carefully.
- Understand how the strap is attached. Such advice may sound trivial, but a funky, edgy design might involve a one-of-a-kind strap attachment. Straps eventually wear out. If you cannot find a replacement, your wristwatch just became a pocket watch.
Microbrands are changing how people buy premium watches
The emergence of microbrands has changed the premium watch landscape as far as the majority of watch collectors and enthusiasts are concerned. This heretofore underserved majority can finally acquire high quality, limited edition, Swiss Made timepieces at prices they can afford. Buyers in this market just need to proceed with caution and look before they leap.