Launching a watch brand used to be reserved to industry veterans or seasoned watch collectors, until a young entrepreneur named Filip Tysander turned the industry upside down with his social media marketing business model. In the wake of Mr. Tysander’s success, hundreds of aspiring entrepreneurs have been using the template of this marketing prodigy to launch their own watch brand, often to the count of two or three per week.

By 2019, it is fair to consider that this ship has sailed, and that this specific business model no longer seems to be sufficient to warrant success.

You might already be familiar with the 8 P’s of luxury brand marketing as they were defined by marketing strategist Rohit Arora: Performance, Pedigree, Paucity, Persona, Public Figures, Placement, Public Relations and Pricing. In a post-Tysander era, new watch brands owners have started to put emphasis on 3 of these 8 P’s to differentiate their value proposition: Performance, Pedigree and Persona.

Performance

«Performance means that a product should satisfy the functional needs as well as deliver on its physical attributes.» In other words, Performance goes beyond a specifications check list and is about how the product allows the customer to experience the brand’s universe.

By 2018, new brand owners started to use design to differentiate their brand. The look of grandpa’s 1960’s slim golden watch that became the staple of Daniel Wellington is at the risk of becoming too commonplace. According to the theory of life cycle of fashion trends, this style has become mainstream and might be entering its decline phase.

The theory of fashion trend lift cycle
The theory of fashion trend lift cycle

As a matter of fact, a lot of collections launched in 2018 and 2019 have been releasing designs that emulate the looks of the 1970’s, suggesting that the influence has moved forward by one decade.

The modern day 37 mm Farer Stanhope. Image credit Hodinkee.
Example: the modern day 37 mm Farer Stanhope. Image credit Hodinkee.
An original Heuer Camaro reference 7743 from the 1960's. Credit Hodinkee.
An original Heuer Camaro reference 7743 from the 1960’s. Credit Hodinkee.

For this reason, you need to carry out a thorough competitive research before starting development on your brand and you need to make sure that the creatives that you choose to work with (see my page about Finding the Right Creatives) are familiar with trends research. We also invite you to get access to my competitive intelligence database, which contains information about 400+ watch companies including: turnover, sales volume and employee count.

Pedigree

Any attempt to compete on price alone will put you in a rat race that a competitor with less than you to loose will win. So in light of this, brand owners have started to look beyond Chinese manufacturing and Japan quartz movements to raise the pedigree of their watches.

Mechanical movements are often taken into consideration, and we know that traditional watchmakers have been able to tripe their turnover while reducing their volumes, by simply switching from low value quartz watches to high value mechanical ones between 2004 and 2014: How a Value Hike by Swiss Watchmakers Left the Lifestyle Segment up for Grabs – TRENDS·WATCH.

Swiss exports of mechanical and quartz watches by value (million CHF) and volume (x 1,000 pcs), 2004 to 2015
Swiss exports of mechanical and quartz watches by value (million CHF) and volume (x 1,000 pcs), 2004 to 2015

Brand owners have also started to shift from Japanese to Swiss movement, or to Swiss Made altogether, with the consequences that the Cost Of Sales becomes significantly higher, but the benefit that each sale reaps in much more profit.

Persona

When it comes to brand identity or Persona, owners are also moving away from the template of the Daniel Wellington founding story and its use of location names for collections.

Branding agencies sometimes like to use the chart of 12 Brand Archetypes to better define the values and aspiration of a particular brand.

The 12 brand archetypes used in marketing
The 12 brand archetypes used in marketing

These rotate around 4 core missions, which are: independence, achievement, connection or stability. Those 4 values are usually divided into 3 each, which correspond to the 12 brand archetypes: innocent, sage, explorer, rebel, magician, hero, lover, joker, everyman, caregiver, ruler or artist.

This is mostly subjective, but here is an examples of brands and their corresponding archetype:

  • Innocent (safety): Citizen Eco-Drive, Q&Q
  • Sage (understanding): Habring3, Jaeger leCoultre, Montblanc, Nomos, Parmigiani Fleurier, Vacheron Constantin
  • Explorer (freedom): Alpina, Breitling, Bremont, Citizen Promaster, Damasko, Guinand, Hamilton, Hanhart, Laventure, Longines, Omega, Otis, Seiko Prospex, Sinn, TAG Heuer, Tutima, Victorinox
  • Rebel (liberation): Bell & Ross, Carl F. Bucherer, Cuervo y Sobrinos, De Grisogono, Diesel, Gorilla, Hautlence, HYT, Officine Panerai, Richard Mille, SevenFriday, Technomarine, Ulysse Nardin, Van Der Bauwede
  • Magician (power): Corum, DeWitt, Franck Muller, François-Paul Journe, H. Moser & Cie., Kari Voutilainen, Maximilien Busser & Friends, Roger Dubuis, Roger Smith, Urban Jurgensen
  • Hero (mastery): Grand Seiko, Rolex, Zenith
  • Lover (intimacy): Balmain, Baume & Mercier, Cartier, Ebel, Frédérique Constant, Raymond Weil, Van Cleef & Arpels
  • Joker (enjoyment): Artya, Romain Jerome
  • Everyman (belonging): Daniel Wellington, Fossil, Ice-Watch, MVMT, Seiko5, Swatch, Timex
  • Caregiver (service): Certina, Rado, Tissot
  • Ruler (control): A Lange & Söhne, Audemars Piguet, Breguet, Jacquerye Droz, Laurent Ferrier, Patek Philippe
  • Artist (innovation): [Alain Silberstein], Hysek, Ochs & Junior, Ressence

There are online questionnaires that can help you to bring up your brand’s value, and once that you understand your brand archetype, it gives you a clearer vision for driving artistic decisions.

Having covered the importance of your Performance, Pedigree and Persona, I will now discuss how to position your brand stylewise and pricewise against the competition, with the help of a database about 400+ watch brands.
I will also discuss how to pick a designer to hire for your product and what to expect in terms of development process; how to determine your sales channels and target price, and which materials or nufacturing processes to take into consideration.

Don’t hesitate to contact me personnally if your project needs help with design, cost management or production.