I hate the term disruptor – it’s too often a cliché – but it is an apt description of a new generation of watchmaking micro-brands bringing vintage style within the reach of an audience who own a timepiece of. a top brand is about as realistic and affordable as owning an apartment in central London.
The joy of these watches is that they don’t patronize the young buyer. To take Furlan Marri, named after Swiss designer Andrea Furlan and Middle Eastern collector Hamad Al Marri. He nicknamed one of his models Tasti Tondi after the nickname of the much sought-after Patek Philippe Ref 1463. The prices are incredibly low (think £ 396 for a two-sub-dial chronograph), using a meca movement. -quartz, a hybrid electromechanical mechanism introduced in the 1980s; but vintage indices are everywhere, from the beading on the inside of the caseback to the serial numbers engraved between the lugs. Unless the caseback is opened and the bracelet is removed, the wearer will never see the beadwork, and that’s exactly the point: just knowing it’s there contributes to the satisfaction of the wearer. property.
But even though they can be influenced by the past, micro-brands use the tools of the modern world to reinforce the sense of involvement and connection between the brand and the buyer. Jacques Bianchi de Marseille is a manufacturer of diving watches used by the French navy in the 1980s: a Bianchi Kickstarter campaign raised more than five times the initial objective of € 150,000, where a minimum commitment of € 594 made it possible to get a JB 200 diving watch, a discount on the already attractive price of € 990.
Baltic is another low-cost retro-style brand that’s causing a stir, especially since it was invited to be part of the prestigious Only Watch charity auction.
Aside from the low price and high end design, the charm of these watches is that they are not the product of focus groups. When I ask George Bamford to Bamford London to whom its watches appeal, its answer is not formulated in the demographic discourse of the professional marketing department. “I appeal to myself,” he says, “I made a single pusher chronograph for £ 2,500 with a forged carbon case because it’s a watch I want, and I don’t. have not seen the market. ” A few years ago the words forged carbon and single pusher chronograph could have justified a hefty five-figure price tag from one of the premium brands. Bamford freely admits that he uses widely available Sellita movements. As it is a newly established brand, he describes the £ 2,500 as “an understandable price for Bamford London”, explaining that it is the high end of a price range that starts at £ 400 . “I am really excited about this award. “
This excitement is being felt more and more throughout the industry. With his redesigned and relaunched Aquaracer and the three-handed Carrera worn by Ryan Gosling, TAG Heuer reaffirms itself in what was once his £ 2,000-3,000 heart. In addition, CEO Frédéric Arnault believes there is scope for the brand to expand its offering to around £ 1,000 – that’s what we’re known for and where our customers want to see us.
Arnault noticed that the brand’s entry-level Formula 1 lineup has been popular since its design refresh. “We animated it this year, we had an orange dial, and it worked really well. We have some really cool ones coming up next year that I think will speak strongly to the younger generation. “
Cartier, which is on an upward trajectory, has also been able to offer watchmaking as desirable as it is affordable in the form of its revisited Must watches. Echoes of the original Must watches from the 1970s and their distinctive colored dials have found the right note with collectors who are happy to have something new and cheerful on the wrist without having to think too much about the price. “A Cartier for just over £ 2,000 is incredible,” enthuses Mark Toulson, head of watch purchasing at The Watches of Switzerland Group.
Toulson also identifies OrisThe trendy £ 1,600 Aquis 300m dive watch with green dial as bestseller: “That’s a lot of watch for the money. It doesn’t have an in-house movement, but you get its Caliber 400 movement with a five-day power reserve. The brand has also just launched a beautiful ProPilot Big Date in bronze for the same price.
That kind of money will also give you access to entry-level pieces from the brand that arguably started the current boom in affordable collectible watches: Tudor. You sleep is of course the sister brand of Rolex and was intended as a cheaper alternative for ‘blue collar’ to the brand with the crown, with early advertisements suggesting it as the watch to wear if you were a pneumatic drill operator or a motorcyclist. But in recent years it has emerged as a maker of tool watches that are rich in detail, historically informed and at affordable prices. I can’t say enough good things about the Black Bay Fifty-Eight with its riveted strap and vintage-inspired 39mm diameter case. I’m not alone: I’ve heard it was too cheap and I know collectors who can afford any watch on the market who regularly wear a Tudor.
But perhaps the biggest stir this year at the affordable end of the market has come from Rolex, which transformed its entry-level Oyster Perpetual only on time by offering it a range of brightly colored dials. Suddenly, Rolex has indeed become the biggest disruptor of the year in that it has completely changed perceptions of its simplest watch. Priced at around £ 4,425, the most affordable Rolex has become one of the most desirable. It is a magnificent watch. There is only one difficulty: With the lengthening of waiting lists as authorized retailers currently expect more stock and secondary market traders to ask up to three and a half times at retail, the problem is to find one. But more will be done.
Models, Aradj Sissoko at IMG Models, Braien Vaiksaar, David Ge and Theodor Pal at Success Models. Casting, Plus Three Two. Grooming, Christos Vourlis. Scenography, Enzo Selvatici. Photographer’s assistant, Lucas Mathon. Digital operator, Joanna Huttner Lemoine. Stylist assistant, Thalia Duran. Production, Municipal productions. Special thanks to Café Les Deux Gares and Home Agency