Thursday, September 21, 2017

Game of Lawn Chairs

Or why perceptions can be misleading.

I guess you could consider this a public service announcement to watch brands, pr agencies and everyone who covers them.

Let's start out with a definition:

a person or thing that influences:
The most powerful influencer of beliefs is direct experience.
a person who has the power to influence many people, as through social media or traditional media:
Companies look for Facebook influencers who can promote their brand.
per Urban Dictionary: 

A makeup, hairstyle, or fashion blogger who is instafamous only on Instagram or buys "followers" and "likes" and gets free products from companys who fall in their trap of fake fame.

Jeff: "So, what do you do for a living?"
Becky: "Im an influencer, I have 200k followers." 

Okay, the topic of influencer and what is real vs. what is horseshit has been a long running battle in the luxury industry - particularly as it pertains to watch marketing. For better or worse, marketing departments are currently staffed by Millennials who suffer from (you guessed it), millennialitis:

The belief of sales, marketing, and advertising professionals that the Millennial demographic represents a completely unique group of consumers and as such, entirely new approaches must be adopted. Even if the product you are trying to sell is intended for a completely different demographic, such as Depends Adult diapers.

I tried to explain to the Creative Director that the hipster didn't represent our customer demographic, but she's got a bad case of millennialitis.

And this has been an ongoing struggle for many of us who cover these things and try to eke out a living, or at least cover the expenses by selling the odd ad. This challenge was compounded when it became clear that several blogs and online magazines were likely employing less than transparent methods to acquire traffic that was less than organic. And then add into the mix the practice of charging fees for coverage and it became the farce that we are all now participating in.

And if we are very honest, this practice has gone on to some extent even before the digital era. Cash, gifts and nice trips are the grease that ease the wheels of watch coverage.

But then came the era of the influencer. And then marketing departments got lazy, and influencers got greedy. Marketing is a slippery and challenging field as its effectiveness is often a very hard thing to measure. And in the age of digital, the success of marketing has been down to one very simple metric - how many clicks or impressions they received.  More often than not this is a misleading or even false measure owing to click farms and other tactics used to boost traffic. Which brings us to a recent announcement and explanation from the FTC, otherwise known as the Federal Trade Commission.

The long and the short of it is this -

If the blogger, writer, influencer is being paid - they must disclose it. If they are not being paid, then they are fine. But this is currently not really how it has been working.

For those of you interested in the exact language and how this is outlined by the FTC, you can find it here -

The FTC’s Endorsement Guides: What People Are Asking

Maybe, just maybe we will be playing on a level playing field from here on out.

Is the Recovery Real?

The results for August are in, and strictly looking at the numbers, they would appear very encouraging.

Courtesy of the FH

And in fairness, they show a very positive trend.  The export numbers are, indeed, up.  But the tell-tale realities remain - sales are not up to a level that would clearly state that things are back to normal.  And that remains the $64,000 Question - when will the export numbers truly measure the strength and stability of the Swiss Watch Industry?

One key time period we should all be waiting on is the first (and possibly second) quarter of next year.  As I and many others have mentioned - the new standards for what make a Swiss watch "Swiss" go into effect, and there is a not so subtle push to get as much product outside of the borders of Switzerland as possible before the odometer turns on January 1.  Export numbers are simply that - export numbers.  They do not tell us whether manufacturing numbers are up, they do not tell us that sales are up.  When we are talking about the major groups, all that they are really telling us is that products have been transferred from HQ to a subsidiary.  

Now one other interesting item to consider - the US market is STILL down.  And in fact it is down nearly 5%.  Also interesting to relate with that number being as low as it is, the US is still #2 in global exports...  
I am no economist and am not on the shortlist to replace the current Secretary of Commerce, but the numbers don't really make sense.

We will wait and we will see - and hopefully we'll see an actual recovery.  But what we in the press, and many of you consumers have absolutely no way of knowing - is just how much of this export increase is due to a business improvement, and how much of it is a flush of product prior to January 1?

To be really, really clear - I personally want to see things improve.  I am tired of reporting on less than inspiring results.  But the industry, and those who ran the brands and wrote the checks have spent the last 7 years pigging out and forgetting the lessons that they should have taken to heart then.  Let's see if the lesson sticks this time.

Stay tuned.


Yes, the same folks who brought you that "edgy" and "disruptive" short film featuring a notable star of French cinema kissing bullets and crediting his precision timepiece for his success in blasting Bambi's brains out are back! 

Courtesy of Cvstos
Now a few brief words about beauty - it is clearly subjective and what appeals to me certainly will not appeal to everyone else out there.  But I have to be honest, this one does not turn my aesthetic crank.

From a promotional perspective, I am equally challenged to understand this watch.  Now in fairness, I am not a subscriber to Architectural Digest, and for all I know Eric Kuster is (at least in an interior design sense) bigger than Elvis.  

I will leave it with you to draw your own conclusions.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The KLOK-08

From Klokers -

Courtesy of Klokers
The team from Klokers is back with an exciting new offering that is launching on Kickstarter.  Ladies and Gentlemen, and children of all ages, allow me to introduce the KLOK-08!

As the proud owner of the first KLOK-01s I have to say that this new offering is an exciting new iteration of the slide rule style.  As a comparison, here is my KLOK-01 -

You will note that the dial uses a slightly different layout with a slightly smaller sized font used for the minute wheel and a non-numeric second wheel.  And I have to say that it is a great variation on the original.
Courtesy of Klokers
The design team also stretched their palettes a bit, adding a gold tone case and crown.  While the romantic in me loves the original 01 for the wonderful color combinations, I have to be honest that this new take on the KLOKER's concept is equally satisfying for the same visceral reaction it brought me when I first saw the images.  This is something special.
Courtesy of Klokers
The colors that were selected are a bit more somber, offering a  pleasantly aged look.  All three offerings are at once timeless, and yet beguiling in their originality.  

Here are the pertinents, straight from the team in France:

Two concentric disks turning counter- clockwise to indicate the time along the vertical axis in the top of the dial 
Stainless steel casing and triple injected dial glass with integrated magnifying lens 
White and pink gold; black and

beige; warm grey and orange.
39 mm diameter x 10 mm high
(with strap): 60 g
Patented xing system (stainless steel 316L) push-button at 8h to unlock KLOK-08
from its support (strap or accessory) 

Quartz counter-clockwise - Ronda Swiss Made
30 m / 3 atm 

4 types of straps : leather, alcantara, textile, steel milanese
Leather: matte black, blue, caramel, yellow 

Alcantara: orange
Textile: mouse grey, lichen green, black 
Milanese: silver, black pink
230 mm

Patented xing system (stainless steel 316L) push-button at 8h to unlock KLOK-08 from its support (strap or accessory)