Not a bad way to ring in the new year…
So obviously I have not been updating the blog much in the last couple years. To have a great blog I really believe that it needs to be updated at least a couple times per week. I couldn’t keep up with it and don’t want to write junk posts.
However, I have been working on the youtube channel. I’m trying to post a new review video weekly. If you like them, please share. I know most of the big collectors and dealers in the country and plan on filming reviews of the coolest and rarest pieces out there, but in order to do so I want to show these owners that people actually care about the videos.
Here are my last two. Enjoy!
Not long ago, I noticed that a silly, unedited, 5 minute watch video I recorded had gotten over 110,000 views on youtube. After rewatching it, I realized that a candid video is one of the best ways to really get a sense of what a watch is like “in the metal”. Since I have access to a lot of cool pieces, I figured I’d start making weekly videos on my Ticktocking channel. Please subscribe to the channel if you like them and share it; that way I know people are actually enjoying them and I’ll continue to make them. Here is the first:
I found this cool old video the other day. It’s the best I’ve ever seen for explaining how a differential works.
Last summer I wrote a post on the dangers that smart watches could pose to the Swiss watch industry. It generated a ton of discussion on social media and within the industry, and ultimately even led to my consulting with a high end watch brand on a smart watch product line.
At the time, the uses and capabilities of wearables had not been defined and thinking was very much hypothetical. The thesis was basically that a company as influential and as innovative as Apple could literally kill the luxury watch market overnight with a revolutionary product. If there were a smart watch that everyone truly had to have, the mechanical watch would face an immediate extinction level event.
However, fortunately for Switzerland and unfortunately for anyone who loves revolutionary products, the uses and capabilities of wearables still remain largely undefined. Whatever you think of the Apple Watch, it seems clear at this point that it will be far from a must-have device. Without a use case so compelling that one wouldn’t think of leaving the house without it (think: all payments and identification only carried on a watch), smart watches will remain niche products — more fashion statement than productivity enhancer.
Given that Apple took their best swing and still fell far short of that mark, it seems safe to say that smart watches are not the way of the future. Instead the seemed destined to be a cool accessory with some interesting, specific use cases. So while I undoubtedly will buy one the day it’s released as I do most gadgets, the luxury watch industry can breathe a sigh of relief that I won’t hesitate to leave it in the drawer most days in favor of a beautiful mechanical watch.
There’s a great interview on Forbes today with Marc Andreeson, venture capitalist and internet pioneer. You should read the whole thing. I found the section below particularly relevant to the watch industry — friction that has been created and eventually the direction things will need to go in. No one yet has really used the internet to “charge consumers less” in the watch business. It will happen at some point.
Jeff Bezos has this line where he says there’s really two kinds of businesses in the world: those that try to charge consumers more, and those that try to charge consumers less, or try to save consumers money. I think about that more broadly. I reframe it as: There are businesses that have the mentality of adding value, and businesses that have the mentality of extracting value. And the Internet, I think, is an enormous benefit to the model of adding value, and it’s an enormous danger to the model of extracting value.
I think you see that across the economy today. The music industry is a classic case in point. The whole piracy boom of music on the Internet really arose when music buyers essentially rose up in protest and said, “I want one song. Why am I being forced to pay $16 for the entire CD when all I want is one song that I can listen to online.” That’s when you had an earthquake hit the music industry. It was when consumers viewed the pricing to be fundamentally unfair.
Car dealers are going through another version of this. Carbuyers have never liked the process. Maybe a few have, but most carbuyers have not liked the process of having to go in and really get raked over the coals by a car dealer who takes advantage of the fact that consumers have no idea what the wholesale price of the car is. Now, after a little research online, you can walk in armed with a car’s complete wholesale information and get a much better deal.
In traditional business circles that kind of transparency gets viewed mostly as a threat. I think that’s unwarranted. I think the opportunities are just as large and probably larger, especially for businesses that have this view that their role in the world is to add value, is to bring consumers benefits.
Recently I have been thinking a lot about the watch industry again. Do I want to get back in? If so, in what sort of position?
Part of this exercise has been to analyze the industry in its parts and as a whole. I’ll write further about my thoughts and I have touched on them in the past, but perhaps the biggest threat was not even on the horizon when last I was authoring this blog. It seems clear that wearable tech is going to be the next evolution of technology, and likely that it will be widely adopted.
“I see [wearables] as a very key branch of the tree.”
“I think the wrist is interesting. The wrist is natural.”
If a company like Apple were to make a must-have tech product that occupies wrist space, it could mean a truly abrupt end to the wrist-watch.
It may be hard to imagine right now, but think about how necessary it is in 2013 to have a smart phone. What if there were an iWatch that was just as necessary? An everyone-has-one type of device like the iPhone. Within a year or two, the watch industry would be decimated. The wrist watch would lose its real estate, just like the pocket watch lost its waistcoat.
I wouldn’t have seen this as a very real threat even a year ago. But when Tim Cook is making statements like that, you have to take notice. This could make the advent of the quartz watch look like a blip in the road. It would be a true extinction level event and it is right on the doorstep.
For those of you who don’t know, Vianney Halter released his first new watch in many years today. I absolutely love it!!
I woke up to find these three pictures on Facebook.
I don’t know anything about the watch yet, but I am in love and think it is fantastic for the industry. For those who don’t know, Vianney’s Antiqua could be said to be the watch that started all of contemporary horology. I know it was hugely influential to Max Busser and Felix Baumgartner.
But, it was not without controversy. The watch was designed by Jeff Barnes. Halter and Barnes later had a rather unceremonious split, but Vianney continued to produce mainly Barnes designs (or at least Barnes influenced). This Deep Space is really the first watch he has given us without Barnes DNA and moves him back to the top of the current Contemporary Horology scene.
So for all of these reasons I find it to be a very important watch. And DAMN it’s cool! Now I have to find out what the heck it is…
EDIT: I had to include this awesome video from Watchonista that I just saw
I have been very critical of the watch industry in the past on this blog. I will be critical of the industry in the future. But I’d like to stop and point out something that they absolutely nailed.
The jury for the 2013 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Geneve (the Oscars of the watch industry) is absolutely fantastic and shows that at least some people have their heads screwed on straight.
First, the journalists. Ben Clymer, Elizabeth Doerr, and Carlos Alonso are three of the absolute best in the world. Sean Li is a very well known collector plus the editorial director for Revolution Hong Kong. Marcel Philippe is a very knowledgeable NY collector. Some of the others I do not know as well, but I assume they are great as well.
This jury shows everything I want to see from the watch industry: a focus on real collectors, the best journalists, and working with celebrities who bring credibility, not just a famous name.
Bravo! It’s going to be a fun event!!
Hey everyone! Sorry for the extended absence. There are multiple reasons for it, some of which I will address in future posts, and some I will probably not. The main reason, however, is I didn’t have anything I wanted to write.
Well, the urge to write has hit me again. So I’m going to resuscitate this blog and attempt to fill it with musings once again. For this post I thought I’d simply share something I think is pretty amazing.
Beyond watches and tech, which I have covered well here, I also love cars. Living in traffic filled LA and having a kid, my current favorites are flagship luxury sedans. Recently I went to look at the Audi A8L. I chose it for the quality of workmanship and attention to detail. The interior fit and finish is simply incredible. However, I find the exterior styling a bit boring. In fact, while I was at the dealership, I saw an incredible S4 in special ordered bright orange paint that was peculiarly tempting.
Anyway, I got myself the A8L. Quartz Grey on black interior. Perfect car for LA traffic and kids in the back seat
But I couldn’t get that orange out of my head. It just seemed so fun! And that’s when I stumbled across something pretty cool. I had heard of cars being vinyl wrapped to change their color. Usually I’ve seen matte black or other matte colors. So I did some research and found out there is actually a huge variety of colors that can be chosen, and they are not all matte. To make a long story short, I found an awesome glossy bright orange color, decided to have some fun, and now have what I believe is the only bright orange A8 in the world. It’s fully removable if/when I get sick of it and is definitely fun! So if you see me around LA (and you won’t miss me), say hi!