Saturday, February 16, 2019

Movements from America

Courtesy of FTS

Now before we take a deep dive here, in the interest of transparency, I did not attend the launch of the FTS facility, or the earlier announcement/press event, but a few of the "bigger" outlets did.  So I need to stress that my update here is based on materials provided by FTS, I have yet to visit, see the facilities or even the products in person.  Having said that, if all is as advertised, it is a very impressive enterprise underway in the Arizona desert, and I suspect that a very solid business will emerge.

Courtesy of FTS

Here is the info, straight from the source -

Fine Timepiece Solutions Launches American Watch & Movement Manufacturing Facility


Joined by the Mayor of Fountain Hills, two-time #1 bestselling author David Meltzer, technology partners, local dignitaries and a core group of American based watch brands, Fine Timepiece Solutions has formally launched the rebirth of American watch making.

After more than three years of planning and over a year of conceptualization and construction, Fine Timepiece Solutions (FTS) has formally launched the commercial watch manufacturing and supply business to bring American watch making back to life.

Under the technical direction of CMW21 accredited master watchmaker Manuel Yazijian, FTS technicians and watchmakers are hand crafting a catalog of 16 Ameriquartz watch movement calibers built to the most stringent standards in a state of the art facility. FTS builds, regulates, and tests Ameriquartz movements as well as produces and tests complete watches for client brands.

This first step in re-establishing an American source for critical components, as well as domestic assembly, will help the growing corps of American based watch brands realize their creations right here in the USA.




Monday, February 11, 2019

New Brand Announcement - REDACTED

A new brand has just been announced in advance of BaselWorld, and for once Tempus Fugit has managed to get the jump on the other outlets ; )

REDACTED

Have you ever wondered what happens to the guys and gals that name their brand after themselves, and then sell the brand, or lose it to an investor?  Or the folks who were using their own name legitimately, but then faced legal action from an aggrieved party who owned a brand similarly named and forced them to abandon their brand even after years of successfully doing business?

Well, it would seem that a group of watch lovers who also happen
to be attorneys felt that there was a very real window of opportunity to not only get these folks back to making watches, but to do it in a way that did not violate their non-compete and naming agreements.  
The founder of REDACTED had this to say -

"It's a funny thing, most of the sales and cease operations agreements specify that the former brand owner cannot use their name again, and that they cannot launch THEIR OWN brand.  But they don't say anything about working for someone else.  REDACTED is now actively partnering with several legendary watch makers who for legal reasons cannot use their own name for a brand, and cannot be "owners" of a competing brand.  My partners and I felt that it was one of the most inexcusable wastes of talent and potential to prevent some of these artists from working and creating their wonderful timepieces.  REDACTED now gives them their voices back." 


Yes, by now you've probably figured out that this is not a true story.  But wouldn't it be nice if it was? 

Friday, February 8, 2019

The HYPE


So in the interest of full disclosure, I am one of the people behind the event you will read about below.
BaselWorld is nearly upon us once again.  And as I am sure you know, watch brands will not be restricted to Hall 1. 
This year, something rather unusual happened.  10 independent brands all agreed to work together and support each other in an open format that will be more accessible to journalists, potential retail partners and collectors.  To make this possible, these brands wanted a location that would invite curiosity and discovery, and they felt that there was no better place to do that than the lobby of the Hyperion.  What they wanted was a way to show their watches and connect with people without all of the noise, signage and HYPE found in a typical trade show environment.  What they wanted was something different - an opportunity to simply show their watches, to speak with journalists, collectors and retail partners honestly and openly without all of the noise.  A simple meeting where you can simply come and see the watches, and talk about them.

They didn't want a show, they wanted a collaborative space to share their creations, to meet with people one at a time, and to do it in a more stripped down environment.

It started out with the two brands that I represent - Minase and Sartory-Billard.  And then a few other brands heard about our idea, and they wanted a similar opportunity.  And The HYPE now involves 10 brands who will be working together during five days of BaselWeek - Thursday - Monday.

More details below -                                                                                                                                                                    

February 5, 2019



I wanted to take a moment to let you know about a special collaboration of small, independent and micro brands who will be hiding in plain sight at the Hyperion hotel during BaselWeek this year.



10 brands have come together to support each other and share their products with journalists, retailers, distributors and collectors in a less formal, more inviting atmosphere.  Come by the Hyperion (Formerly the Ramada) Hotel’s ground floor (in a secret location to be revealed in March) and experience the HYPE of BaselWeek 2019!



The following brands will be participating –

Minase                                              

Sartory-Billard                                  

Holthinrichs Watches                      

Lundis Bleus                                      

Straton                                               

Muse Swiss Art Watches                 

ISOfrane / Tropic                              

Vortic                                                 

GoS                                                     

Ophion                                              


The format is open and brands, their owners and representatives will be on hand to show their watches and share their opinions and insights. 
                               
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Thursday, February 7, 2019

Bankruptcy

For Anima (Kronaby) the plug was officially pulled yesterday when they were declared bankrupt.  I reached out to the company and received this statement from the CEO, my comments follow after -

It is with sadness that yesterday the 6th of feb Anima AB who owns hybrid smartwatch brand Kronaby has been declared bankrupt. Our main focus is now to continue the positive ongoing dialogues we have with a number of investors, in order to secure the forthcoming growth of the company. Our main owner – Goertek, has changed their strategy going forward and therefore ended their investment with very short notice, which has resulted in lack of time onboarding new investors with high interest in the company. This has unfortunately significantly limited our chances of avoiding a bankruptcy. We see a considerable growth of the Sales of Kronaby hybrid watches and will work hard to secure a future for the brand.

For now the business sustains and the company operations continues. This also means that our app and watches are working 100% and there is no damage on the watches on our customers wrists nor the watches you and we have in stock and in stores. It is our belief that this, together with the strong interest from the market, indicates all the right conditions for the potential new investors. 
Okay, let's consider some basic points that are getting somewhat glossed over -

1.  Goertek is not just some other typical "Chinese fall guy" that the Swiss (and I guess in this instance) the Swedes like to blame for incompetence, lack of vision, etc.  In fact?  They are a pretty big TECHNOLOGY company.  They understand probably better than most that good things, sometimes, take time.  And the amounts that they have been investing in the Kronaby watch?  It's beer money to them.  I suspect that two things happened -
A.  They realized that the tech behind the Kronaby watch is already way, way behind the times.  Rather than recreate a wheel that is already rolling and working quite well in millions of other watches (for a shit-ton less money), they might as well become movement customers and simply buy stock from a company that can actually produce it consistently.  Wonder why the Alpina and Frederique Constant watches still haven't caught fire?  I don't.

2.  Leadership  - or in this case?  A lack thereof.  As continuing readers will note, I followed he build up and launch of the Kronaby watch.  I attended the launch in Malmo now two years ago.  And I came to learn that the four fellows heading up the efforts didn't really understand the watch business, and more importantly?  Had a very tough time recognizing, admitting and correcting some of their behaviors.  For a company that had no actual manufacturing overhead, and 60 or so employees, it is REALLY hard to understand how you could have an operating loss at the level that they did in 2017?  Per the article cited in yesterday's post, they had 37 million Krona in sales and managed a loss of 127 million Krona.  I'm sorry, but that is the kind of burn rate not disimilar to Internet companies just before the bubble burst.

Lastly, let's say you are the mom and pop retail store that bought in?  While it's all well and good to tell these folks that they shouldn't worry, that just isn't so.  They now have stock that may, and then again may not be worth anything in a few months time unless new, serious, deep pocketed investors are brought in.  And if you are the customer?  Well, let's hold a good thought.

Perhaps the greatest tragedy in all of this is the staff.  Good people doing their best in a ship piloted by people with out sized ambitions who were (and apparently still are) perhaps trying to punch above their weight.  Selling watches isn't easy.  If it were, BaselWorld would be growing, not shrinking.  

Kronaby is a beautiful name, the design is pleasing and the concept is a good one.  But sooner or later someone will have to step in who actually understands that it's all well and good to say that you are a lifestyle product, but ultimately that product is still a watch, and it might not be a bad idea to try and have a better understanding of that industry.   

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

And The Shit Gets Even Realer

Today started out with an email from a reader who is -
Finnish, living and working in the UK, with a Swedish ex-wife (who he is apparently on good terms with), who was visiting his kids this week (in Sweden) and forwarded me this link to a Swedish newspaper article -
Anima in Bankruptcy

For those of you not fluent in Swedish, Google Translate provides a pretty solid translation.

Long story short, after just over 2 years of the Kronaby watch, the company is now looking for a white night to ride to the rescue and this morning filed bankruptcy paperwork.

More on this in a few hours.