Home Crowd Funded Dear Hopeful Crowd Funded Watchmakers – An Open Letter from a Fan

Dear Hopeful Crowd Funded Watchmakers – An Open Letter from a Fan

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Dear Hopeful Crowd-Funded Watchmaker:

Allow me to start by saying that I think you are doing something really cool, and that I am a huge fan.  This is the first time in history where the power to build, market and sell a watch is not vested in the few, but open to anyone with an idea and a bit of money.  I think that a lot of the projects that you come up with are attractive, interesting and offer a great value.  Heck, I have backed a couple of projects myself.  And to keep from singling anyone out negatively, the crowdfunded projects I show here are the projects that I feel are doing it the right way.

R-Paige-Crash-of-29-04
R. Paige, a distinctive look with a restored vintage movement

All that said, lets get a couple of things straight.  You are not creating the next Rolex, Omega, or even Timex.  There are a very few of you out there that are getting deep into the heart of the watch, and you may get to talk about these aspirations (but those folks rarely do).  For the rest of you, putting an existing movement into a watch built by a third party off shore assembly firm to your design and specifications is not going to make you into an integrated watch company.  You may be wildly successful and end up with a brand that has a devoted following, but that still is not putting you on par with these established brands.  Maybe after watch #3 or #4, you can start talking about how you are building something special with your brand, but not with your first launch.

smith-bradley-sans-13-duo
Smith & Bradley’s US assembled watches

Along those lines, don’t tell us that you have the goal of returning watch making to the US.  First off, it never left.  Second, others are already bringing more construction and fabrication back to our shores.  Your aspiration is not a plan.  If you are doing the final assembly here, or fabricating parts here to be integrated overseas, then tout what you are actually doing, not what you hope to do, someday, maybe.

Ferro Distinct Single Hand02
Ferro Distinct Single Hand, not your typical watch

Also, for the vast majority of you, if you can’t find a watch that is at least somewhat similar to yours on the market, you just are not looking very hard.  This goes for the ubiquitous three hand super slim minimalist quartz watch.  Have you ever seen a Daniel Wellington?  They are available everywhere.  That isn’t to say that there isn’t room for your watch, or that your watch does not represent a good value, but it probably is not all that innovative.  When you say that you can’t find a stylish, affordable watch that also does, whatever, and those watches are readily available in the market, it means you either don’t know the market or think your customers don’t know it.  If you are going to tell us that you are doing something different, then give us something that is different.

Cobra de Calibre Chronograph 02
Cobra de Calibre and their tattoo inspired art

To this last point, you don’t even need to tell us this little nugget.  Tell us instead how you have always wanted to design a watch. Tell us that you thought it would be great to get your art out to a wide audience.  Tell us about how you used to tinker with watches as a kid.  Chances are, it will make the story more interesting anyway.  I am not wearing your watch because I am impressed with your business plan, I am wearing it because I think it is a cool watch.

Lew-Huey-Legends-13
Lew & Huey, which built a lasting brand through crowd funding, has a warranty I would trust.

Finally, especially for all you first time watch makers, do you really think I am going to impressed with your warranty?  You have one watch that is being built in China with Japanese parts and you don’t even have a retail presence any more.  Your promise that you will fix my watch in a year is just an empty promise.  I am sure you have great intentions, but without a track record, how can I judge your viability?  By all means offer a warranty, but don’t make it a strong selling point unless you have some way yo actually guarantee it will be honored after the project is finished.

So that is it.  I just wanted to get this off my chest.  I started writing for WWR by covering crowd funded projects, and I still cover a lot of them.  We do fewer than we used to, and since I have seen so many of them (I used to look at, literally, every Kickstarter watch project), I am a but jaded.  I am no longer following the space as closely as I was, so we rely more and more on tips coming in, so if you see a cool project, or if you are creating one, drop us a line.  Just keep in mind that not everything is going to get covered, especially if it is a Bauhaus inspired three hand quartz watch built in China because you could not find something similar on the market already.

Thanks for reading,

Matt Himmelstein

 

 

 

 

 

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6 COMMENTS

  1. My problem with kickstarter is:
    I won’t buy a watch that doesn’t exist yet.
    I won’t pay more than the “early backer” price.

    Great rant.
    Thanks this made me laugh.

    • Thanks. Personally, I have bought watches off Kickstarter, and I have been pleased with the quality of the end product. I am not sure if I would do so off of Indiegogo or some other site, since those sites don’t require a working prototype.

      As far as the early backer price, I don’t like to pay more than that, but I judge the value at the time I make the purchase. It is like saying that you won’t buy something because it was on sale last week, and you won’t pay more than the sale price. If there were no early backer price, would you pay the regular price?

      • This is an interesting question. One I can’t answer because there is an early backer price. I can tell you this, if I see something on sale one week and return later to buy it and it’s no longer on sale I ask for the sale price. If I don’t get it I wait until it’s on sale again. If I like a kickstarter watch I’ll wait for the inevitable sale on a forum and buy it then.

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