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Thread: Our doomed hobby!

  1. #1

    Our doomed hobby!

    Well this is depressing.......!

    'The result, after a battle that raged for more than four decades, will be a dead Swiss industry catering to a world that has moved on'

    https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/techc...atch-industry/

  2. #2
    The thing about those watches is (i) people who have them keep having to upgrade them; and (ii) they look like (who's to say, possible are?) electronic tags. My sense is that they will last for some, others might grow out of them with time.

    I'd have thought the more existential crisis is represented by the traditional smart phone (slash pocket watch)

  3. #3
    Pretty nonsense figures as everyone on here with an Apple Watch also has at least one other and most have at least one Swiss watch unless they’ve gone full Japanese.
    It's just a matter of time...

  4. #4

    Our doomed hobby!

    I think there’s a fair amount of forgettable/‘nice watch’ stuff out there which will go over time, leaving us with the icons and the niche stuff.

    Similar (if not identical) to the coming electrification and autonomisation of cars. Your Ferrari berlinettas and your Caterhams will survive (possibly through cultural exemption of regulation, a bit like Show and Display in America). Warm hatchbacks and sporting saloons? What will be the point? Electric cars will be plenty fast enough, and day-to-day driving will (sadly IMO) become time devoted to work/browsing the internet.

    If smart-watches become (more) popular and useful, then a watch that’s simply Swiss or ‘nice’ won’t cut it - it’ll have to be either special to the general public (Ferrari/Rolex) or the niche ‘WIS’ market (Caterham/Dornblüth).

    The hobby’s not doomed, it’ll just be ‘smaller’. Some losses may be regrettable, I suspect many won’t be all that tragic.

    Watches certainly don’t face the regulatory and law enforcement difficulty that cars do.
    Last edited by Dark Side of The Loon; 14th February 2018 at 01:16.

  5. #5
    Master
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    I’m sure the same muttering was made in the Quartz ‘crisis’, yet mechanical watches remain.

    I am guessing on pure unit numbers (not value) Casio / Seiko etc outstrip Swiss - could be wrong.

    Also -it’s comparing apples to pears - how many Apple watches can be bought for the price off decent Swiss watch, and the Apple Watch is a disposable - obsolete in 1 or 2 years max.

    My most expensive Swiss watch is still in production (design the same) and I bought it 15years ago.

    M.

  6. #6
    Craftsman
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    Apple watches are temporary disposable items like computers. I suppose some individuals my collect them and wear different ones for different occasions.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by MartynJC (UK) View Post
    I’m sure the same muttering was made in the Quartz ‘crisis’, yet mechanical watches remain.
    Well, that was a very narrow escape indeed. And I bet the Swiss are still scared of the possibility that the Japanese are going to design specifically for the western market.

  8. #8
    Master
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    I think some things will come into play here
    At some point some financier will decide Watches join wines as being an investment or at least they gain real acceptance. This will be like an investment bottle of wine compared to say a nice bottle of supermarket merlot. The top brands including Rolex will have models in both sections of the market. With the odd modern watch becoming an investment. This will be a market wherever technology moves.
    Man jewellery - men still want acceptable jewellery
    Very high end mobile phones - effectively useless after a technology leap, this same issue may cause problems with trying to do high end smart watches . Result being that a traditional precious metal watch will actually have greater longevity.
    Where I can see issues is the Tissot / Casio / Citizen market

  9. #9
    Craftsman
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    Watches are more a piece of jewellery these days, for many men its the only piece of jewellery they own or covet - jewellery isnt going away anytime soon!

    Apple watch sales will be huge and will overtake swiss watch sales, but its a different market - most buyers of swiss watches probably buy 1 every 10 years or more... apple watches are constantly upgraded. It wouldnt surprise me if many of the buyers of apple watches have no intention of buying a swiss watch and never have.

  10. #10
    Master
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    What absolute rubbish!!!

    Take the whole graph over the 2 year period
    Apple 30.2m units
    Swiss 49.6m units

    Taking into account the approx. price of the watches

    Apple from £329 to £1400
    Swiss from £20 to £how much do you have?

    I think the Swiss watch industry is fairly health and will be around for a while longer

  11. #11
    Rubbish! Heard it all before. It's as boring as Brexit !

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  12. #12
    Master
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    Archery is still enjoyed by many people.

  13. #13
    Master Chinnock's Avatar
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    Being nearly 50 myself, I was always fascinated by the watches my Dad would wear and at weekends leave on his bedside table. Would always sneak a peek and have a play with them when he wasn't about. Remember my fascination when handling these bulky steel goliath's, their weight and sound of the ticking hands. Guess that's where the seed sprouted in my mind and watches became firmly ingrained in my subconscious. I have imparted this passion to my children which they have adopted and appear to appreciate (based on which watches they would prefer I keep for them to have one day, and the mechanicals they like to wear on special occasions). However there passion is really a reflection of my own, and if truth be known, none of their mates would care or notice if they were wearing a "proper" watch.

    I do ponder as to whether we are the last of a generation when it comes to mechanical watches. Not saying mechanical will die out, but fear it will become very limited and exclusive. Based on the likes of Fortis, I'm sure we will see this trend increase over the coming years and be left with a limited supply of very expensive and exclusive mechanical watch manufacturers catering for the very rich.

    Be interesting to see how things have developed in 20 years time, based on the pace of technology vs traditional.

  14. #14
    Master snowman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dark Side of The Loon View Post
    I think there’s a fair amount of forgettable/‘nice watch’ stuff out there which will go over time, leaving us with the icons and the niche stuff.

    Similar (if not identical) to the coming electrification and autonomisation of cars. Your Ferrari berlinettas and your Caterhams will survive (possibly through cultural exemption of regulation, a bit like Show and Display in America). Warm hatchbacks and sporting saloons? What will be the point? Electric cars will be plenty fast enough, and day-to-day driving will (sadly IMO) become time devoted to work/browsing the internet.

    If smart-watches become (more) popular and useful, then a watch that’s simply Swiss or ‘nice’ won’t cut it - it’ll have to be either special to the general public (Ferrari/Rolex) or the niche ‘WIS’ market (Caterham/Dornblüth).

    The hobby’s not doomed, it’ll just be ‘smaller’. Some losses may be regrettable, I suspect many won’t be all that tragic.

    Watches certainly don’t face the regulatory and law enforcement difficulty that cars do.
    A lot of truth in what you say, but I don't see Rolex as the Ferrari of the watch world - That's going to be something like Patek or JLC, surely? Or something even more esoteric.

    Rolex is 'nice' but accessible. Ferrari is not, for most people, even those comfortably off. Many here can afford or own a Rolex (or a few), I suspect more than a few could just about stretch to a new Ferrari, but very few do.

    Ferrari, in fact, are at risk of devaluing their brand, with ever increasing production and less focused models - Sure they'll appeal to more people, but at the same time, become less special, something Rolex have already achieved I think.

    This is fine while there's a mass market for your product, less so if it becomes niche.

    They understand this (read any interviews with their management), but it's a very fine balancing act and, a bit like a high wire, one you can't really recover from if you get it wrong!

    M

  15. #15
    Grand Master
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    Are Apple as only watch buyers the same market as those spending 000's on swiss mechanical?
    I don't think they are. It's a bit of an apples and oranges article.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chinnock View Post
    Being nearly 50 myself, I was always fascinated by the watches my Dad would wear and at weekends leave on his bedside table. Would always sneak a peek and have a play with them when he wasn't about. Remember my fascination when handling these bulky steel goliath's, their weight and sound of the ticking hands. Guess that's where the seed sprouted in my mind and watches became firmly ingrained in my subconscious. I have imparted this passion to my children which they have adopted and appear to appreciate (based on which watches they would prefer I keep for them to have one day, and the mechanicals they like to wear on special occasions). However there passion is really a reflection of my own, and if truth be known, none of their mates would care or notice if they were wearing a "proper" watch.

    I do ponder as to whether we are the last of a generation when it comes to mechanical watches. Not saying mechanical will die out, but fear it will become very limited and exclusive. Based on the likes of Fortis, I'm sure we will see this trend increase over the coming years and be left with a limited supply of very expensive and exclusive mechanical watch manufacturers catering for the very rich.

    Be interesting to see how things have developed in 20 years time, based on the pace of technology vs traditional.
    After some reflection I agree with you - both of my kids wear Apple watches as do nearly all of their friends despite me buying the eldest a lovely Rolex as a 21st present...

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by verv View Post
    Are Apple as only watch buyers the same market as those spending 000's on swiss mechanical?
    I don't think they are. It's a bit of an apples and oranges article.
    Exactly.

    Other than being worn on the wrist and telling the time, there's not much to compare about them. These touch-screen toys are inherently disposable and rapidly obsoleted. A decent mechanical watch is a mature technology that tends to become more desirable with age and outlast its wearer; it's the exact opposite of a consumer-electronics gadget.

    And don't forget that those who write for tech magazines tend to be a bit more into nerd hype than average. ;)

  18. #18
    Grand Master Seamaster73's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MartynJC (UK) View Post
    How many Apple watches can be bought for the price off decent Swiss watch, and the Apple Watch is a disposable - obsolete in 1 or 2 years max. My most expensive Swiss watch is still in production (design the same) and I bought it 15years ago.
    That's precisely why Apple's business model will win.

    Buy a Rolex and love it, great, but you may never buy another. Hard lines for Rolex. Buy an Apple Watch and love it, great, buy another every couple of years. Great business for Apple!

    (FWIW, I bought one Rolex over ten years ago. I've bought three Apple Watches in less than three years.)
    Last edited by Seamaster73; 14th February 2018 at 13:34.

  19. #19
    Rolex has been around for over a hundred years, and I'd say that they're more likely to still be around after another hundred than Apple is.

    Besides, the idea of "winning" doesn't really apply given that they're not even competitors.

  20. #20
    Grand Master number2's Avatar
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    It's inevitable, its only a matter of,,



    time,,

    tick,,,,, tock,,,,, tick,,,,, tock,,,,,,,,,,,,
    "Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it's enemy action."

  21. #21
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    The simple truth is that Apples and the like are a passing phase, something else will come along to satisfy the latest set of fashion victims. Men tend only to wear limited amounts of jewelry but want the best. Hence PP and Rolex will always be in demand.

  22. #22
    Master Rod's Avatar
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    I have no desire for an Apple or Android watch. My Grandson (12yrs) already has a healthy mechanical/quartz watch collection. He can do all the other nonsense on his phone

  23. #23
    Master
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    William Golding, the scriptwriter for 'Butch Cassidy' was struck by how hard it was for even experts to spot a 'winner'. He had written on his wall:
    ''No-one knows anything about anything.' And that certainly includes the future of consumer goods. The past is not a reliable guide to the future. So, time will tell. Mechanical watches deserve to survive ; but so what.....

  24. #24
    Master
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    Did you know that cars outsold watches last year too? Probably because they have a built in clock, meaning OUR INDUSTRY IS IN DANGER!!!!!!!!

    Yeah, about as relevant. ;)

    Most mates I have wear either just a watch, or a watch on the normal wrist and a smart-watch on the other.
    Look at the graph numbers... watch sales aren't dropping, smart watch sales are booming because its the flavour of the month. Go and ask early adopters who still have their Sony "minidisc", or even the original i-pod.

    I don't feel sorry for watch collector's, I feel sorry for journo's who have nothing important to write about. 😃😃

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Dave in Wales View Post
    Archery is still enjoyed by many people.
    So is film photography, and some still enjoy using a typewriter, or riding a horse. That doesn't mean all is well.

    Currently you can buy mechanical watches in loads of stores in the high street. Every City has thousands on display and for sale, and very few smart watches. The shift is going to be enormous over the coming years and like the quartz crisis many brands won't survive.

  26. #26
    Master OliverCD's Avatar
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    I also think we'll see far more tech wearables when the tech gets to a level that the 'smart wear' can detect major medical indicators... its slowly going that way at the moment. It will almost become stupid not to have it on you, if say it could throw up and early warning sign of a stroke or heart attack.

    It might not be a watch but some form of tracker. I think wrist wear on both wrists will not seem that odd in a couple of years at all.

    Hopefully the tech will get smaller (And the wrist watches too!!!)

  27. #27
    As the Swiss Watch Industry might say

    “Reports of my death are grossly exaggerated.”
    Andy

  28. #28
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    All is not lost; at the weekend my 11 year old son asked me if he could have a Rolex. We have compromised on a Seiko 5!

  29. #29
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    Our doomed hobby!

    This hobby has appeal across the ages, my local is a good example . I was identified as an horology addict a couple of years ago , now whenever I visit a member of staff or a local is chuffed to bits to show off their latest acquisition. The age group from late teens to a 75 year old & about a dozen in total , male and female . Varied choices and 99.9% mechanical .
    We must all spread the word , it’s much better and safer ground than , politics , religion or Brexit .
    Enjoy it , we are here for a good time , not a long time ( stolen from Beefy Botham) but I totally agree !


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  30. #30
    Ridiculous prices will kill the Swiss watch industry.

  31. #31
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    I think the Swiss have their heads in the sand, they haven’t learned the lessons from the 70s when the quartz revolution almost killed their industry. The recovery then was remarkable, huge changes were made and the fact that the industry flourished is a credit to those involved. To my way of thinking they should be striving to keep the mass- market and promoting the more affordable stuff, it’s all about keeping the base of the pyramid as broad as possible. The high cost of servicing and the restriction on parts supply is doing them no good either, for many people the prospect of paying £400+ to keep their watch running in a few years time is a good reason not to buy, younger people aren’t as tuned in to the concept of service and maintenance as we oldies because they’ve grown up in an age where everything’s a throwaway item. If parts are made available at sensible prices the cost of servicing can be kept to sensible levels, but at the moment we’re heading in exactly the opposite direction. Independent repairers are either dying of old age or giving up because the parts situation is making it too hard to keep going. This can change, but it needs the Swiss to do a U-turn and that’s something their psyche struggles with.

    Predicting future trends and fashions is nigh-on impossible, but I fear the Swiss watch industry is backing itself into a corner. Redefining the mechanical watch purely as a luxury item will backfire on them big- style, it’s happening now. The significance and relenvence of the conventional wristwatch is questionable, in a way that would’ve been unthinkable 15 years ago. Look around, smell the coffee, see how many people are wearing conventional watches of any type let alone expensive mechanicals. The wearing of ‘proper’ watches is in steep decline, it’s not just the young folk who’ve stopped wearing them, it cuts across all age groups.

    When you think about it, tying a small clock to your wrist is a bit strange, maybe the wristwatch will be pigeon-holed into a 100 year compartment of time; it came, it flourished, then it died out.

    Paul
    Last edited by walkerwek1958; 14th February 2018 at 21:35.

  32. #32
    Grand Master Chris_in_the_UK's Avatar
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    ^^^

    Not like you Paul being all positive and upbeat? Lol
    When you look long into an abyss, the abyss looks long into you.........

  33. #33
    Grand Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris_in_the_UK View Post
    ^^^

    Not like you Paul being all positive and upbeat? Lol
    I could be totally wrong but I think my hypothesis is plausible.

    Have the Swiss watch industrywoken up to the fact that theyre actually in a scrap?.........took them a while in the 70s!

  34. #34
    Grand Master Seamaster73's Avatar
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    The likes of Rolex will probably survive, because they sell luxury, not watches.

    It's the mid-tier — Oris, Tissot, etc — that will be the first casualties of this scrap.

  35. #35
    Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony-GB View Post
    Ridiculous prices will kill the Swiss watch industry.
    I think this is as likely as anything else. I think the economic conditions of the well off have been helped enormously by asset price inflation and that in turn has fuelled inflation in discretionary expensive goods like watches and classic cars. I wonder how the industry will react to tighter conditions now that their business model appears to be based on higher retail levels.

    I have a theory that aspects of the watch market are in a bubble and if it bursts then the market for new watches will get very difficult because they will be competing with potentially lower second prices.

    Highly sort after stainless steel sports watches are the obvious place. It really wasn't that long ago when a second hand Sub was less than 2 grand etc. I don't know; maybe I'm wrong but getting used to being able to sell at really very high prices and having waiting lists might be the real risk to the Swiss watch industry.

    Also, if that does happen, then stories like the one on the forum about the AD that would sell a hulk but only if the customer bought another high end watch at the same time might come back and hurt them.

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  36. #36
    Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seamaster73 View Post
    The likes of Rolex will probably survive, because they sell luxury, not watches.

    It's the mid-tier — Oris, Tissot, etc — that will be the first casualties of this scrap.
    They'll also survive because the trust is sitting on an enormous investment portfolio that could offset difficulties in the industry for a very long time

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  37. #37
    Grand Master Chris_in_the_UK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony-GB View Post
    Ridiculous prices will kill the Swiss watch industry.
    Been said for the last god knows how long.

    Market will just polarise - high end and cheap.
    When you look long into an abyss, the abyss looks long into you.........

  38. #38
    Master Thom4711's Avatar
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    If the industry goes pear shaped I’ll be able to buy all the watches I want. So, win/win really :)

  39. #39
    Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris_in_the_UK View Post
    Been said for the last god knows how long.

    Market will just polarise - high end and cheap.
    This ^^^^^

    The high end will maintain scarcity and be just fine, like art, wine, property, cars etc.....

  40. #40
    Grand Master Andyg's Avatar
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    Women will continue to buy expensive shoes, handbags and make-up. Men will continue to buy watches, sports cars and "stuff". Both do it in order to add a bit luxury to their lives and to demonstrate some individualism.

    Plus what do you buy your children on their 18th or 21st Birthday, which they will keep forever?

    Whoever does not know how to hit the nail on the head should be asked not to hit it at all.
    Friedrich Nietzsche


  41. #41
    Craftsman
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    Our doomed hobby!

    For most guys in this forum, we have reached the stage in our life where we have the means and education to appreciate finer things. Whilst there are plenty of cheap watches and cheap wine around I prefer the expensive stuff. People who cannot appreciate nice watches would never do so anyway irrespective of the invention of new iwatch “alternative”


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  42. #42
    Master Chinnock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris_in_the_UK View Post
    Been said for the last god knows how long.

    Market will just polarise - high end and cheap.
    Total agreement. My observation from a purely business point of view though is;

    Shrinking customer base, based on higher prices, fuelled most probably by a shrinking customer base. Also assuming the shrinking market of customers will want your product, what percentage will necessarily want to buy your exclusive and expensive timepiece. They might actually prefer an android / super watch / next best thing since sliced bread etc etc....

    Not the best business model for future growth, surely? Based on the speed of technological progress over the last 20 years, I wouldn't want to be pondering my prospects as an exclusive high end watch manufacturer for the next 20 years. The odds don't look great if one is totally honest.

  43. #43
    Quote Originally Posted by Chalet View Post
    This ^^^^^

    The high end will maintain scarcity and be just fine, like art, wine, property, cars etc.....
    Are Rolex already protecting their brand by throttling supply of stainless sports models? I.e adjusting the supply/demand dynamic in anticipation of Swiss carnage?

    I think all brands mid range & below are in trouble long term!

  44. #44
    Master
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    So more cheap watches were sold than expensive watches? Astonishing.

  45. #45
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    Our doomed hobby!

    It might be time to move some vintage pieces. After all, if one spent $400.00 during the 1970s for a basic 4-digit model that is now worth $10K to $20K+, that's a pretty good return. The newer owners of 6-digit Rolexes will never see that kind of % appreciation.

  46. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony-GB View Post
    Ridiculous prices will kill the Swiss watch industry.
    Yes, the price of the Rolex Submariner is for example far too low. I want a new one and it seems like I will have to wait 8 months! They are selling like hot cakes.

  47. #47
    Craftsman
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peteris View Post
    Yes, the price of the Rolex Submariner is for example far too low. I want a new one and it seems like I will have to wait 8 months! They are selling like hot cakes.
    Isnt that part of why they are selling like hot cakes though? The fact that you can buy your 'bling', wear it AND make a few quid is what's fueling the market. What were the waiting lists like when 1665s were $400 in the 70's?

  48. #48
    Quote Originally Posted by walkerwek1958 View Post
    To my way of thinking they should be striving to keep the mass- market and promoting the more affordable stuff, it’s all about keeping the base of the pyramid as broad as possible. The high cost of servicing and the restriction on parts supply is doing them no good either, for many people the prospect of paying £400+ to keep their watch running in a few years time is a good reason not to buy, younger people aren’t as tuned in to the concept of service and maintenance as we oldies because they’ve grown up in an age where everything’s a throwaway item. If parts are made available at sensible prices the cost of servicing can be kept to sensible levels, but at the moment we’re heading in exactly the opposite direction.
    Paul
    This is a well-considered argument. Perhaps servicing requirements might alternatively be exploited as a unique selling point to emphasise inherent longevity and possibly eco credentials in a world weary of planned obsolescence and forced replacement. But then I use my mechanicals sparingly as a weekend treat and have no appetite or experience of multi hundred pound watch servicing.

    It can be demonstrated that an intermittently used mechanical watch will still work despite receiving no maintenance whatsoever for decades. That is more than can be claimed for most quartz watches (solar & kinetic excepted). My 20+ years old Oris unfailingly springs into life after laying dormant for most of the year, whereas my bedside drawer resembles a permanent resting place for a multitude of battery expired quartz.

    It seems to me that the inherent sustainability of mechanicals, particularly when treated as little luxuries to be appreciated and I’m including Seiko 5’s here, is a core appeal and one for which there is an untapped audience who may yet be ready to embrace the concept.

  49. #49
    Craftsman
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    Quote Originally Posted by maxf View Post
    Isnt that part of why they are selling like hot cakes though? The fact that you can buy your 'bling', wear it AND make a few quid is what's fueling the market. What were the waiting lists like when 1665s were $400 in the 70's?
    Classic example of a veblen good.

  50. #50
    I think I know how to finally solve this issue once and for all - We should ask this guy about the state of the Swiss watch industry in the year 2030. Surely he will have some insight given his time travelling exploits??

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...ctor-test.html

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