Kickstarter Watches: The Virus the Watch Industry can't shake...
This is a follow up on my Fashion Watch Epidemic blog to some extent. I asked the Properly Wound Group for some insight on another hot topic, and this was certainly a popular topic. Fashion watches are an epidemic, but Kickstarter watches are a disgusting virus we can’t seem to shake.
Social Media plays a huge role in Properly Wound, as the majority of the interaction between Properly Wound members happens on Facebook, god help us. It is what it is. Because of that – I spend a fair amount of my “watch time” on Facebook and it is inundated with links and ads to new kickstarter initiatives.
As far as the Properly Wound platform, we keep most of those pesky links and ads out. But God help me if I browse my normal facebook feed. Every three scrolls – boom, something “new and exciting”.
This certainly plays on the “Fashion Watch Epidemic” but with a caveat, the Kickstarteroonies are targeting us.
Here are five reasons why they are a disease.
Fake Press: You read that right. It really does boil down to the dollar, even for the “watch press” outlets. I clicked on one astronomically ugly watch that had been “110% Funded” only to see its been featured on a host of big name review sites.
Yeah right, the “creator” simply greases the palms of one of the larger blog sites and boom your Chinese manufactured turd with an ETA movement has “credibility”.
The fake press these pieces receive is mis-leading, but uneducated collectors do not know the difference, they see the “As seen on blah blah blah” and think it is a genuine review – in actuality what is published by these sites is furnished by the creator.
Movements: Look I am a huge fan of ETA movements, they are robust, tried and true, bulletproof movements, but they are cheap, rather un-remarkable, and easy to obtain.
One does not have to go through some incredibly difficult process to get ETA or Selita movements for their new “Swiss Made” watch. In fact my parts supplier has plenty in stock from $144 to $160 each. High Quality, Robust….and cheap.
While I find the Kickstarter watches boasting Swiss movements questionable, the watches with Asian movements are even more questionable, as their profit margins get much larger (assuming they get funded). Take for instance this piece which looks like a Timex Waterbury, powered by a Seagull movement. The heart of the watch, is a $25-$35 part, yet its roughly $300, and well…unremarkable.
Origins: I’m not claiming this as fact, but as a strong possibility. If you consider the creators are e-begging for funding, it is more than likely the case (in the least sense) the watch parts are manufactured in Shenzen, and possibly the entire piece is manufactured there. From actual design to production; even if the piece is labeled as “Swiss Made” there is a huge chance that ground breaking kickstarter watch is going to be built in the same factory some of our other favorite Chinese shitter watches are made.
Diving deeper into “origins” there is certainly no provenance of the piece – I know, everyone starts somewhere but what happened to self funding your endeavors? What happened to building and perfecting something prior to selling it?…ah yes, Kickstarter.
Other questions come up when you get to thinking about it, who is the creator? What experience do they have in the watch industry?
False Hopes: Some of us die hard collectors would love to see another actual game changer come to market. Take Linde Werdelin for example, an amazing micro brand that was self funded and still puts out amazing, one of a kind pieces. Maybe some of us hope to see something ground breaking come about, but I think it is a hell of a long shot.
Post Sale Care: There are hundreds of watches on Kickstarter today, some will go unfunded, some will barely cross the finish line, others will blow it out of the park. But out of the hundreds of watches offered on Kickstarter (past, present, & future) how many actually become a self sustainable brand? Is the only way they survive is more kickstarter deals?
Who warrants these pieces when issues come up? Who pays for service when the need arises? Keep in mind the creator sought funding directly from the consumer prior to production. I doubt Kickstarter requires them to hold back funds in the event of an issue; those who fund a Kickstarter watch can only hope the creator prepared for mishaps.
At the end of the day, Kickstarter watches are not a value proposition, 98% of them are not unique — at all. Kickstarter brands use deceptive press practices to show credibility, and often utilize off the shelf movements. When you factor in the origins of the brand, the e-begging, and the risk of post purchase care; the entire premise is a loosing bet for the end user. Factor In the risks of cost over runs, shipping expenses, delays, & payment processing fees – what happens when the project is “fully funded” on Kickstarter but under funded in reality?
The Consumer is left holding a pile of trash, that is worth pennies on the dollar.