Thursday, July 20, 2017

Maybe the Numbers are Improving...Maybe Not

Okay pals and gals, the numbers are in for June from our friends at the FH are happily reporting the news of an uptick in Swiss watch exports.  

Courtesy of the FH

I apologize if the image is a bit fuzzy, but that is appropriate because the correlation between increased exports and actual watch sales is equally hard to pull into focus.

If we were to believe that numbers don't lie, then apparently every jeweler in Italy and the UK must be selling boatloads of watches with truly Herculean increases of exported watches arriving in these two locations.  The numbers for the US are, at least, more believable with a further poor month resulting in a decrease of 1.3%, and Japan with an additional decline of 15.4%.  And if the numbers are to be believed, then we can all breath a sigh of relief!

But the problem with fuzzy numbers is they tend to be fuzzy for a reason.  And I will repeat what I said here about a month ago - increased export numbers do not necessarily indicate increased sales numbers.  While I will not claim to be in touch with every retailer in every country, I can say that the reports back do not reflect the very large volumes of Swiss watches that are being exported to the UK and Italy.

Which means, once again, our old friend the Grey Market, the Light Grey Market, and good old fashioned trans-shipping might better explain a part of it.  The other part is the need to get as many watches out of the country before the new "Swissness" becomes reality - and that means only about 6 months left.

So no sports fans, I do not think we are out of the woods quite yet.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Something Pretty Exciting

From Hemel -
Courtesy of Hemel
This is the latest offering from a micro brand that is starting to gain a real following.
 
This is the Hemel HFT20.  A really cool bi-compax chronograph that offers the customer some options for customization.  
 
Option 1:  a GMT bezel -
 
Courtesy of Hemel
 
The GMT bezel is unidirectional, 120 clicks allowing for fairly precise setting of the second timezone.
 
Option 2:  a 60 Minute bezel -

Courtesy of Hemel

There is a third option for with what is described as a Standard bezel.

But the options go even further, with the option of having either a self-winding or auto-quartz movement.  And I think that this is a fantastic move on the part of Hemel.  There are a LOT of customers out there who love the look of a watch, but at a given price point it might be just out of reach for them.  Moreover, there are some folks who actually prefer quartz for its accuracy and it's lower maintenance.
Courtesy of Hemel
And the choice of movements was also intriguing -
 
For the mechanical version it is the Seiko NE88.  Self-winding that can also be hand-wound, with a hacking function for the second counter.

For the quartz, it is actually a mecaquartz, the VK64 mecaquartz also from Seiko.  Offering the best of both worlds - the accuracy of quartz with the smooth second sweep of a mechanical watch.

The price for the self-winding version is a very reasonable
$999.99.  The mecaquartz weighs in at a very attainable $ 449.99.

Courtesy of Hemel
Here are the pertinents for each model:
                                                     
• Movement: Seiko NE88 (automatic & manual wind, hacking second hand, 28,800 bph, 34 jewels, 45 hour power reserve).                                                                                           
• Movement: VK64 mecaquartz. Quartz caliber incorporates gear architecture for smooth second hand sweep.

• Case: 316L Stainless Steel, brushed

• Case Width: 42 mm (46 mm w/crown)

• Case Thickness: 16 mm (w/flat crystal)

• Lug Width: 20 mm

• Lug to Lug: 49 mm

• Caseback: Screwdown, engraved

• Dial: Matte black w/Superluminova C3

• Front Crystal: Flat sapphire

• Water Resistance: 100 meters

• Crown: Signed, push / pull                                                                                                        
• Bezels: 60 Minute bezel, ceramic / GMT and Standard bezels, stainless steel

• Straps: Vintage cognac leather, two piece with signed buckle and steel rivets.                                        
 
This new offering from Hemel is currently available as a pre-order item, and my understanding is that the pricing is subject to increase once the pre-order period is over.  For exact pricing, etc. please reach out directly to the folks at Hemel -



Tuesday, July 18, 2017

An Experiment That Did Not Work Out - Reset Time

Just a quick bit of housekeeping -

A few weeks ago I began work on the Tempus Fugit Buyer's Guide.  It was pretty exciting as one big brand jumped right in, and I felt that it would offer a unique feature that would be beneficial for you the reader, and also for the brands themselves as they would have an entire page devoted to their brand and their products.  The motivation was simple - the guide would be a service for the brand as well as the reader, and any income generated would help defray the expense of creating and running the blog.  The brands would provide all of the content, and it was simply facts and figures, NO opinion or commentary.  If enough brands would have participated, it might have even covered travel expenses to BaselWorld next year.  That's right, some of us have to pay for that ourselves ; )

But what I have learned the hard way was (ironically enough), an echo of what I have been writing about all this time.  Brands are, for the most part, stuck in the way that they do things, and while there is money for all sorts of crazy stuff, apparently there is not much for the people trying to provide honest coverage without demanding a fee for it.   If I took even half of the brands up on the offer of paid advertorial?  Let's just say I'd be flying business class from Boston to Zurich ; )

Call me naive.  

So in a way, this failed experiment gave me some valuable insight about the pitfalls of combining a fee for service section with the main Tempus Fugit site. 

Owing to all of this, and because I would hate to be someone to ignore my own advice and even worse to become the sort of outlet that I am continually protesting about, we are starting completely fresh as of today.  No ads, no advertorial, no extra features for a fee.  PERIOD. 

Brand owners, managers and PR folks - send your press info.

Let's try to have an honest, open conversation.  Because the last thing that I am going to do, is drink my own bathwater ; )

Never Drink Your Own Bathwater

This will be short, but hopefully to the point.
 
Whether you are powerful and mighty like the recently emancipated Georges Kern, or the scrappy upstart that has morphed into growing microbrand, always remember that your current situation is just that - current. 

I was speaking to some colleagues in the Fifth Estate and we all were sharing the latest "hello my friend" messages that we had received from either recently departed brand managers or those who had been "uncoupled" from their mother ship some time previously that had finally managed to find a new (decidedly less fancy) landing pad with a brand that they clearly feel is below their station. 

Oftentimes it is a brand that their former "besties" at the bigger sites, blogs and online magazines aren't falling all over themselves to cover unless the newly re-employed brand manager is ready to pony up advertising money (which they now have in incredibly short supply) or pay for "advertorial".  And let's be honest, the advertorial is only a step away from the kid who has to have his mother tie a pork chop around his neck to get the dog to play with him.  Not exactly validating...

They had another thing in common - they had fairly consistently never returned our messages, ignored us in public, and essentially acted as if many of us who write about them did not exist.  And no, that is not an exaggeration ; )

It is remarkable how a prolonged bout of unemployment and the cold shoulder from the great and the good who used to cover them exhaustively will suddenly instill a sense of fond reminiscence for previous interaction and a wistful desire to re-connect with their long lost friends from the press.  

So CEOs, brand managers and PR Mavens remember one important thing: 
All of the folks you meet on your way up the ladder?  You are very likely to encounter them on your way back down.

Or as that other great commentator on the industry observed at the end of the movie Patton:

“For over a thousand years Roman conquerors returning from the wars enjoyed the honor of triumph, a tumultuous parade. In the procession came trumpeters, musicians and strange animals from conquered territories, together with carts laden with treasure and captured armaments. The conquerors rode in a triumphal chariot, the dazed prisoners walking in chains before him. Sometimes his children robed in white stood with him in the chariot or rode the trace horses. A slave stood behind the conqueror holding a golden crown and whispering in his ear a warning: that all glory is fleeting.”



Frederique Constant for ONLY WATCH

This edition of ONLY WATCH is fast approaching, and the folks at Frederique Constant have gone a little deeper and are offering something pretty special for this year's auction -
Courtesy of Frederique Constant
For this year's offering is a one of a kind version of their Manufacture Perpetual Calendar.   Ladies and Gentlemen, the ONLY WATCH 2017 Unique Piece - Manufacture Perpetual Calendar.
Courtesy of Frederique Constant
The case is 18k polished rose gold, and measures 42 mm in diameter.  The transparent display back displays the movement, highlighting the Côtes de Genève decoration.
Courtesy of Frederique Constant
But what truly sets this wrist bound bijoux apart is the dial.  It is of meteorite.  Perhaps the most challenging material around for dial makers to contend with, this meteorite dial is truly spectacular and fitting for such a special time keeper.
Courtesy of Frederique Constant


Here are the pertinents -

Reference: 
FC-775MT4S9

Case: 

18K rose gold polished 3-parts case
Diameter of 42 mm
Convex sapphire crystal
See-through case back
Water-resistant to 3 ATM

Movement:  

FC-775 Manufacture caliber, automatic perpetual calendar
Perlage & Circular Côtes de Genève decoration on movement
26 jewels, 38 hours power reserve, 28’800 alt/h

Dial: Meteorite dial, with applied rose gold-plated indexes
Hand-polished rose gold-plated hours & minutes hands
White hands on counters and red hand on leap year counter

Bracelet: 

Dark grey alligator strap, 18k folding buckle

Functions: 

Hours, minutes, moonphase, date, day, month, leap year

Limited edition: 

Unique piece for ONLY WATCH 2017