Thursday, December 12, 2019

Casio is Audi 5000

So the news came forth like a soggy bit of ill-timed flatulence at a staff meeting - Casio has opted out of BaselWorld 2020.

The brand that brought you the G-Shock, the Oceanus and some very nifty desk calculators (I have one in my office) will not be displaying next April / May.

The reason?  Presumably several, but chief among them might be Golden Week.

One of the things I loved about living and working in Japan was the bumper-crop of holiday weeks in addition to individual days.  Golden Week is one that falls in (you guessed it) late April, early May.  So along with Ramadan, the schedulers managed to hit another major holiday period.  

In addition, however, it is another indication that business, overall, is not great.  While the fair schedulers probably didn't fully understand the knock-on effect that scheduling conflicts would produce, the brands have to take some ownership of the fact that the business in general (meaning sales, etc.) is not in what could be called "fighting shape".  And while it is easy to pick a big target like BaselWorld, there are several realities that BaselWorld has no control over that will impact how retailers and brands will determine whether or not to participate.

1.  Sales are bad - This would give the brands one of two options.  They can cut all marketing expenses (BaselWorld just being one of them), or they can embrace the opportunity to participate in BaselWorld and find savings elsewhere.  

Bad sales have a domino effect.  If sales are down, that means that there is less budget to spend, and that means that advertising money is going to be clipped.  And yes, that means the media at large, but most specifically the media that is dependent upon advertising money, advertorial money, and the intentionally vague "package" marketing fee (i.e. in general, you are paying to appear in outlet X on any level) are going to think twice about coming, and likely only visit brands that they have, or hope to conduct commerce with.

So this means that now a lot of media aren't going to come.  But guess what?  That means that brands can actually focus on the media outlets that DO come!  And chances are good that if brands focus on building or re-establishing those relationships, they will have people committed to covering them EVEN WITHOUT GETTING PAID TO DO SO.  Because even though some of the larger "media" outlets will not be sending their "squads", there will be a lot of eager, enthusiastic emerging talent who will welcome the opportunity to connect.  So note to brands - take advantage of the opportunity!  Shake hands, kiss babies, pour coffee!  Don't snob, hob-nob!

2.  Fair style watch shows are dead.  Well, to hear Hayek the younger muse on it a year ago, you would have thought so.  Yes, fairs are so dead that... SWATCH group is (unless I have misunderstood) having their own fair in March to follow-up on the (excuse me while I die laughing) run-away success of their last effort (retailers in Zurich, press at various high end brands separately at no small expense).  So clearly, Mr. Hayek can say fairs are dead all he wants to, but by his group's actions it is clear that he doesn't really think so.

And again, as apparently my specialty is being contrary, I will say it again. BaselWorld is an easy target to shoot blame at. But the truth of the matter is that it takes two to play chicken. And in all honesty that is what brands and the fair have been doing for the last 20 years. When brands were flush, they could not have cared any less about expense. Times get tough? Well, let's just say that we didn't get here overnight. Many brands are fighting a war of ink - black vs. red. And while the fair represents a major chunk of money invested, there are plenty other "fatty portions" that could have been trimmed - friends of the brand, football, rugby, sailing sponsorships, etc. But in hindsight? We always have 20/20 vision.

And again, to be contrary, I think that there will be some opportunity for pioneers and brands that can see the possibilities.

Stay tuned!

The Tourer GMT/Triple Calendar/Three Hand

From Straton -

Courtesy of Straton
These are the latest releases and as always, Straton has strived to offer variety and options to its dedicated customers.

Owing to that, the Tourer is available in three different versions:
GMT
Triple Calendar
Three Hand

And is also available in different sizes and colors.  But they go a bit further.  They are offering different movement types as well.

The current pricing is pre-order, and is currently at its lowest level.  The price will adjust upwards as the number of available watches decreases.  As Straton puts it:

Proud to launch the Straton Tourer GMT, Triple Calendar and three hand watches. By pre-ordering early you are saving up to 30% on retail prices. The prices will increase by $50 every month until it’s retail price is reached so ordering as soon as possible guarantees not only the lowest price but also delivery, price includes delivery. Each version of the Tourer is limited to a first production of 300 pieces per variation (example GMT Automatic limited to total of 300, GMT Quartz limited to 300, etc.


Courtesy of Straton
The Tourer GMT is available in a 43 mm version (Strap only) for $499.  $519 will get you the bracelet, and $539 will get you both the strap and the bracelet.  

It is also available in a quartz version either in a slightly smaller 40 mm version, or in a 43 mm version.  This one is $299 on a strap, $319 on a bracelet, and $339 with both strap and bracelet.


Courtesy of Straton
The Triple C Automatic is 43 mm and is priced at $499 on a strap, $469 on bracelet and $489 with both.

The Three Hand Automatic is available in 2 sizes - 40 and 43 mm. It is currently $399 on the strap, $419 on the bracelet, and $439 with both strap and bracelet.

As is often the case with Straton, you also have some choice in terms of color ways -
five to be precise!  Black, Blue, Gold, Green and Rust/Brown.

We will update with news and developments as Straton gets closer to delivery date.

Stay Tuned!

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Riskers

As they have now completed their Kickstarter fundraising, I can now write about them ; )
Courtesy of RISKERS
This is the PROLOG 1.

Like all of the watches RISKERS has put forth so far (prototypes and designs), the PROLOG 1 bears the unmistakable design of an early 20th Century trench watch.    Or in some ways, not unlike a modern Ralph Lauren design, it is the designer's interpretation as to what that watch might have looked like, reinterpreted for today.  And that's okay.
Courtesy of RISKERS
So let's get into it.  The case measures 43 mm in diameter and 12.35 mm thick and is of stainless steel.  It also boasts a solid case back, which I appreciate.
Courtesy of RISKERS
The crown guard is fixed so the crown is protected. Not having handled one of these myself, I assume that there is sufficient play to get the crown moving and set and wind the watch.

The movement is a self-winding STP, is Swiss Made, boasting a power reserve of approximately 44 hours.  Hours, minutes, central seconds,  and date at 3.  And I am a fan of the date window.  


Now, let's go into the good, the bad, and the perhaps the not-so-well thought out in terms of the messaging.

In RISKERS' own words -
«L’Œuvre nationale du Bleuet de France» is a recognized public service association, which since 1991 is under the authority of the «Office National des Anciens Combattants et Victimes de Guerre» (The National Office of Veterans and War Victims). Its role is to raise funds to finance social work that helps veterans, war widows, wards of the State, soldiers wounded in peacekeeping operations and victims of terrorism.
«Bleuet de France» also supports soldiers currently deployed in military operations: they participated in the initiative «Christmas parcels for soldiers in Opex» and they also takes part in remembrance activities for school children by contributing financially to trips to war memorials. 

As regular readers of Tempus Fugit will note, we appreciate charitable giving.

The Bad - In fairness, this is strictly my opinion.  I am exhausted by the efforts of watch brands to latch onto the bravery and valor of soldiers and draft some sort of heroics by association.  Now don't get me wrong, I work in marketing, I get the power of messaging.  I am just saying that RISKERS (and others) don't need to try so hard to hit that particular point.  The watches are good looking, and they say much more without the overt reach.

The Ill-Advised - Gonna' get a bit personal here.  My mother's third husband (and my fourth faux-father figure) was a teacher (as my wife and I were at the time), as was his son.  And whenever he spoke about his son, he would say - "My son, who has a Master's Degree".  It was more than a little douchey.  Finally, my wife Wendy interjected - "yeah, James has a few graduate qualifications himself".  To which step-father number 2 said, rather surprised:  "I didn't know that".  And the reason is simple - I don't feel so insecure that I feel the need to "over-share" it.

Why do two of the founders feel the need to constantly repeat the fact that they used to work for Richemont?  Who cares?  And given the current state of the Big Boy watch market and what may, or may not be coming down the pike for Richemont and other brands, that might not be a boasting point.

Don't get me wrong, I think RISKERS has a very solid debut watch, and I think if they can get their messaging right and speed up their turn around - this has been a launch that will have been in the works for over a year before they finally deliver the first batch - per Kickstarter the estimated delivery is in late June, 2020.

So let's see where they go from here.  I like the effort to support a good cause, it is a good looking watch.  If they can just refine the message and boil away some of the hyperbole?  They're off to the races!