Friday, December 20, 2019

Be Careful What You Wish For...

So the folks at COMCO finally released their (apparently initial) finding for ETA and their future in the watch movement supply business (at least for the first six months of 2020).

Shamelessly Borrowed from the World-Wide Info-web
Well, let's ask the Magic 8 Ball and see what the forecast is...
Shamelessly Borrowed from the World-Wide Info-web
So here is the (somewhat) straight skinny -
COMCO has said, essentially, that yes, ETA can sell movements...
And they can only sell those movements to brands that employ fewer than 250 people.
Or perhaps, more succinctly, if ETA's intention is to only sell to big brands, then ETA can suck it.

A very interesting thing happened after my last post about the COMCO/ETA fracas. Several folks gave me an ear-full. How could I be so unfeeling towards small, family owned, independent brands?
If I gave anyone that impression, then I apologize as that was clearly not the intended tone. I think that ETA and the big dogs have been in lock-step for years and it is hardly surprising. It's not personal, it's just business. But what many people don't freely discuss or admit is that movements, more often than not, are not made readily available for smaller brands. And no, I'm not saying that small brands never buy direct, and I am not saying that it is impossible. I am saying it is atypical to say the least. If it weren't, there wouldn't be such a booming business for brokers who have been known to get their movements from, you guessed it, bigger brands.

Small, family owned, independent brands that make and sell a thousand or so watches a year are likely not on ETA's Christmas card list. These folks typically work through assemblers or through brokers. And again - not a dig at anyone, just an attempt to keep things real.

In the real "big time" world of watch making, the majority of brand names that you see on your watch dials do not belong to the company that actually assembled your watch. And for those smaller brands that do assemble their own watches (and bravo and please keep it up!), if the numbers are smaller? Let's just say they don't typically have the opportunity to purchase "factory direct". Doesn't mean that these smaller brands don't want to buy directly from ETA, does not even mean that some of them can't. But the word around the campfire is that ETA's sales team has not been, historically at least, let's say... active in returning sales calls from brands they feel might not be worth the time. And in fairness? It is not much of a different story with Sellita, Soprod or others. Eterna, for a brief moment, tried to step into the breach and become a resource for small and micro brands. But again, if we're being real here, Eterna was soon overwhelmed by internal dysfunction. Needless to say, you don't hear so much about the micro brands using Eterna movements these days, and if the word around the streets of Grenchen is to be believed, that beautiful Eterna factory is now not unlike Wonka's Chocolate factory. Nobody goes in, and nobody comes out. And that's a shame. Eterna is a beautiful brand and some wonderful people have worked there through the years, many I am proud to call my friends.

So SWATCH Group got served up a big cup of irony flavored coffee - ETA has been told by the very organization that they went into a blood pact with to avoid having to deal with brands outside of the SWATCH group that, in fact, they can either sell to mom and pop, or they can suck it.

So we will see how this develops, as a final, Final, FINAL ruling is apparently coming out later this spring/summer.

No comments:

Post a Comment