What is driving the microbrand market?

Updated: Feb 20, 2020

Nowadays, the watchmaking industry is not restricted to mega brands. Crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer microbrands an opportunity to reach enthusiastic watch lovers to explore unique designs with affordable prices, removing the middleman fees.

I joined a private group on Facebook ‘League of Watch Microbrands' which has a great number of microbrands owners. The group admin has recently discussed a topic of high importance; ‘What’s driving the microbrand market?’ This blog covers what has been discussed and showcases the group members comments.

Before going through the comments, commentators generally opined that the reason behind the success of this market is based on various factors which are: affordability, exclusivity, customer service, the unique design, prices, wearing a timepiece which only a few own, and monitoring the process of the brand from the design phase until the production phase, among others.

I would like to share with you the most important comments, however, if I miss any other comment it does not mean it is not important, but because the discussion is still on…

Justin Lloyd: Innovative designs that are affordable, high quality, and overall just different from what is typically produced by major brands.

Wes McCarty: Patriotism. (I buy US made/assembled from US companies)

Hendrik Aschermann: Individualism and design. Definitely not the movements, it's either NH35/36, SW200 or ETA2824.

Adam Dather: Variety! With good movements suddenly so affordable, it's easy to get a creative, well-built watch for relatively cheap. $300-$500 has never gone further towards a watch as it does now.

CT Foster: For me, customer service and personal touch.

Bryan Kotsch: Cool watches that break out of the main stream. In a world of Timex and Rolex, it's nice to have something different. I love the fact that I can walk around with a great watch that most people have never seen before.

Zach Miller: Exclusivity and sense of community for me. I am also in the boat of having something only a handful of people have/know about. I also love following the watchmakers journey from design to finished product.

Randy Lastinger: A little of what everyone else said and a lot of times, these microbrands sort of become like family. We have become really good friends with the owners of a couple of the microbrands.

Jason Stinson: Fun. Value. Low risk compared to expensive luxury watches.

Anthony Sotomayor: Quality, fair value and excellent service. A company that will push the envelope when it comes to style and one that will not have a hard time taking chances. Lum is always nice to show, but give me a great movement we can count on.

Steve Onyx: The rabid desire to kill the elusive middleman and disrupt the expensive industry.

Nicholas Konstantaras: Affordability and the watch community supporting them.

Bryan Kotsch: Try and see if any large watch company ever asks their potential customers if they like the new model before production? No! They create it anyway, and if it doesn't sell well... Oh well. Micro brands often use crowd polling, and ask what people would like to see. This creates a timepiece that the buyers can connect with. It's like seeing a child being born. Also, you can never know how long the companies will be around? Hopefully forever, but they're usually run by 1 or 2 people, not a board. When they get to retirement it will be interesting to see if the companies get gobbled up by one of the big guys?

At the end of the day, it comes down to the fact that a watch is a very personal purchase. Chosen wisely, it can quickly become a prized possession or a cherished gift. Chosen poorly and it can end up lost in the back of a junk drawer.

The secret is to know what you want, what you want to say about yourself or the person the watch is meant for, and what you can afford, then doing some research to make sure you pick the right timepiece. This might be as simple as skimming an online catalog for a few minutes, or as complicated as hunting down that elusive "grail" watch over a period of years. But it is worth the effort.

After all, you are buying time

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