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Where are all the NEW watches?

4346 Views 54 Replies 32 Participants Last post by  Thrax
I've been getting bored lately. Not enough new bright shiny objects.


1. Aside from the newsletters sent out by micro-brands, how do we hear about new models?

It can't just be the press releases the big brands put out at Baselworld and Hong Kong, right? I realize the luxury brands get multi-page spreads in the luxury horology magazines, but what about the more affordable end of the market?

Maybe the prices are lower, but the volume has got to be high enough to justify the expense of maintaining some sort of new model release communication channel, right? DiverBob recently posted a new square-cased, retro-looking Seiko. We were all like, "Hey! What's that? Is it new?" Why aren't we all lined up to buy the new releases from the major brands, the same way we're all eagerly awaiting the latest releases from our favorite micros?

2. Is it just me, or does it seem like most watch companies don't release new models that often?

I mean, compared to car companies, which have an annual new model cycle, doesn't it seem like watch companies are either slow to bring out new models, or do a lousy job letting us know about them.

3. Not exactly a "new model" issue, but related - why is it that if I go to, say, Seiko's website, they don't have their whole catalog or all collections available for view?

Some brands do, especially if they've got fewer collections or fewer models, but c'mon, if you're a huge brand, you've got massive resources, you can put your catalog on your website, so we've got a definitive reference source for all the current models, their specs, etc.

Why do I have to search half a dozen sites to see the "complete" catalog for Seiko and some other big brands? Seiko particularly drives me up the wall, forcing website visitors to choose a regional market, which drastically reduces the number of models available for view, when they have to know that many, if not most of their models get global distribution. Compare that to a brand like Certina. They're not even sold in America, but I can still go to their website and view their entire collection.

I'm not bashing Seiko. I'm using them as an example because I actually like Seiko, and it amazes me that they don't do a better job with this. As far as I know, they may be the only one, or it may be all the big Japanese brands (although it doesn't seem like Orient has that problem; I haven't looked at Citizen's site recently, but they seemed to be as obtuse as Seiko). I'm not aware of any Swiss brands that do the same thing. From the few Swiss brand sites I've visited (probably a dozen), none stick out in my mind as being particularly frustrating in this regard.

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There is a site I only go to for the "Industry News" section to see new model releases.
And that site is...?

Using my mobile; please pardon the brevity of my reply, and any typos.
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I think there's too much reliance on a mish-mash of old business press releases , starting to rely on bloggers and old-school print media (of which there's really not much for <$1,000 watches that aren't Stauer.)

Orient's global site is pretty much crap, but I must say that their USA site is one of the few that's pretty good at actually telling me what's new, and their social media presence isn't total junk either. The problem is that they tend to act as though they were the only way to get Orient in the US. "Hey I have a new model" may be a model that was on sale in Europe or Japan a year ago...
Indeed. Press releases are old school, but at least if a brand launches a new model and does a PR release at Basel or HK, it will get picked up by "the press" (such as it is), and relayed outward. The problem is, who is it being relayed to, and are they paying attention?

I was somewhat anticipating someone to reply by pointing out that WUS has an "industry news" section, which of course I never bother visiting. It may be there, but imagine you're an executive within one of these brands...

"Hey Joe, how are we making sure customers know about our new and exciting models when we release them?"

"Oh, Ernie tells them."

"Whassatusay? Who is 'Ernie'?"

"Oh, Ernie, he owns WUS. I send him an email sometimes, but other times he just posts on his own whenever he hears about something, or if someone pays to put up a dedicated 'official' thread on the forum. The watch buyers know that Ernie knows. He's got a special section where news gets posted, separated from where everyone's just hanging out, all cordoned off by itself..."

"..." [insert ........ Frye "Not sure if Serious..." meme here].

I think it's because brands like seiko mostly rely on shops selling them.. if I take a tour in watch shops here in Denmark, it's mostly the same watches every shop have on display! I've often thought of that, since as you say Seiko for instance has a huge catalogue of watches, so why is it mostly the same ~20-30 watches..
I often "hate" comming here.. Cause i really wanna see that new watch that I must have!! :-D but most of the post are about the same watches.. So my wife is probably happy about this :-D

-Sent using Rock, Paper and the occasional Scissors-
I don't know for sure but I think a lot of the older brands have an old world marketing model. They do a lot of brand awareness marketing but only send their catalog to their ADs. The ADs are responsible to order the watches they want to sell and they do the advertising. So most of the manufacturers advertising is directed at the retail sales channel.

I think it is short sighted on their part but sometimes manufacturers are reluctant to mess with an established retail sales chain and as much as they like the grey markets money they cannot acknowledge it or they risk upsetting the ADs

Sent from my SGH-I747M using Tapatalk
Here again, imagine an auto executive telling his boss "the new marketing strategy is to leave the advertising and marketing of new models up to the dealerships. Screw that advertising during the Superbowl malarkey, let the dealers pay the freight to tell customers the only exciting news we ever have. Let them all be responsible for how that message gets delivered. I'm sure they'll all coordinate to make sure the message is cohesive, clear, timely, polished, compelling, etc."

I have found a lot more diversity in watch brands on Instagram than I have here on the forums. I think it's a matter of keeping up with many sources, there isn't really a watch aggregator out there that combs through tons and tons of data looking for new brands and models. Obviously the watch blogs do this in some respect, but there is no single location to go and see all of the new releases. News is spread by word of mouth or by posts here or by articles on blogs, but if a brand doesn't hit a chord with watch fans, you may never hear about it.

I think the issue with Seiko is that they don't have one master collection. They have collections that are targeted for specific regions and they have a ton of watches, more than any Swiss company, maybe more than any other watch company period. It'd be a massive undertaking to catalog all of their models and then specify what region the watch was designated for.

You know the life cycle of a watch is long, so if I were to decide that I wanted to design a new watch today, it might not even be out in 2015, unless things go right from start to finish. I imagine that even the big companies have setbacks in their designs and production cycles.
I think you mean the development/production cycle of a watch. And yes, it is long, but it's less than a year. With cars, the development cycle is longer, and so you see radical newness less frequently. The "lifecycle" of an auto product might be 7 years (I'm guessing), wherein they may make incremental upgrades or changes, but then, after the lifecycle is up, you get the "next generation" of that model.

But with watches, if I can go from concept to delivery in 6 months, and I'm just one guy with almost no experience working in a basement office, dealing with 12-hour time zone differences, a language barrier and a shoe-string budget, you're telling me the major watch brands can't do a few annual (I'd even settle for mid-cycle) refreshes on various models, and come up with something new more often than they seem to?

And if/when they do come up with something new - why not promote it? Put it on the main landing page of their website, or if they insist on segmenting the globe according to regions, on the landing page of each regional site.

You mentioned keeping up with Instagram among many sources. Again, imagine being the marketing/branding exec at one of these brands, and having to explain the strategy of communicating new models by way of customers discovering them - accidentally!

Would it be a massive undertaking to catalog all their current models? I don't know that it necessarily would be. You'd think that a company like Seiko, which seems to have its "$h1t together" would have internal reporting capabilities such that they can drill down into different lines of business, slicing and dicing data by movement, price, model, market, etc, and then also do the reverse, aggregating and rolling all those little bits of data up into one global view, no?

You're telling me that Seiko doesn't have detailed info, including specs and pics on every product they make, and in every variation? I find that somewhat hard to believe. I imagine they'd have that info BEFORE they made something. Otherwise, who's greenlighting production, and how, based on what? How the hell would the factory know what to produce without detailed specs, artist's render, etc?

Surprisingly quick, and very filthy, way of browsing Seikos:

  • Pick the prefix you want, eg SSB
  • Go to Google Images
  • Type in SSB001
  • Look
  • Type in SSB003
  • Look
  • Repeat again and again

I think the SSB series took me up to SSB109.

And only then did I realise that the right hand subdial is just a slaved 24-hour dial, sod all to do with the chrono o|
But therein lies the rub - you knew to look for "SSB".

Suppose I'm a Seiko fan, and I want to know about the new models as soon as they come out, if not sooner, how do I know what model prefixes to look for?

I'm only aware of the prefixes because I hang out here, where our collective OCD supports their imprint on our memories.
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Leave it to my wife to make the obvious even more obvious.

I mentioned it to her over dinner, and she pointed out that one of the reasons I chose to focus my brand on the price range I did was because I perceived it as being a bit under-served.

My thinking was (and to some degree, still is) that the big brands seem to see the market as either "$200 and under" or "$600 and up". You really don't see the big brands paying much attention to the watches in between, especially not the mechanical watches, at least not here in the US. I was surprised when I saw a Tissot prominently displayed on the cover of a magazine on a Hong Kong newsstand.

If the pickings are slimmer between $200 and $600, I guess it stands to reason that the manufacturers don't put much effort into promoting new releases within that range.

For my own sake, I hope it stays that way.
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Perhaps the affordable watch companies are now panicking over the Apple watch, as even while it is only a v1 it is obvious that this kind of mature and elegant smartwatch will shake up the industry.
I love the wis-oriented JDM seikos: prospex, sarb, gs; but I would rather have an apple watch than the seiko models you find in western shops. Same for casio, citizen, tissot, fossil etc: they must be panicking.
The microbrands discussed here should be ok, there are enough mechanical watch fans. But the large audience brands should rather stop regurgitating and will need to reinvent themselves.
I doubt they're panicking over anyone's smart watch, or that it will shake up the industry, or that the large audience brands will need to reinvent themselves. In fact, I was thinking about it today, and I've decided (arbitrarily, and with no authority whatsoever) that smart watches aren't really watches. They're mobile devices for the wrist.

In my view, they're not a threat to watches, because people who wear watches aren't relying on a mobile device for time-telling (not exclusively, anyway), and people who rely exclusively on a mobile device don't typically wear watches.

I'm going to go waaaaaaayyyyyy out on a limb and predict that smartwatches are going to go exactly nowhere, at least not anytime soon. I like my mobile device the size it is, and where I keep it (in my pocket). I don't want it smaller, and on my wrist. I like wearing a watch, and not a smart-watch, or even quartz, I prefer an old-school mechanical on my wrist.

People who like "WATCHES" aren't going to trade in their watches for smart watches. People who like having a smart phone, but don't need to have the latest gadget, or don't want to have their smart phone attached to their wrist aren't going to trade for smart watches either. Who's left? People who MUST have the latest gadget, and people who love being connected 24/7. They'll all buy the smartwatches.

The watch industry has proven that repetitive regurgitation is not only profitable, it's obscenely profitable.

Kind of makes the smart watch look dumb, when you look at it that way.
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Smart watches will have zero impact on the watch industry.

Zero. Impact.

Anyone else remember how the Segway was supposed to reshape the urban landscape, and turn every city into a pedestrian's paradise?

Yeah. I still drive a car too, even if I'm just running out for a gallon of milk. The Segway is a punchline.

The smart watch isn't a "new and improved" watch. It's a smaller and less accommodating mobile device.

Two years from now we''ll be laughing at them, and used ones will be on eBay selling for less than a Milgauss knockoff from Bagelsport.

Smart watches are the BlackBerry/PalmPilot of 2014-2015.


But about that watch industry sucks. I hope it always sucks, at least until I can sell my businsess for a fat package of cash.

Using my mobile; please pardon the brevity of my reply, and any typos.
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Who could ever forget the ill-fated Lew & Huey ad campaign of 2002?

Well played sir. Well played.

Using my mobile; please pardon the brevity of my reply, and any typos.
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If I were in charge of watch releases, every single model would get:

-A launch video on YouTube walking people through the case, movement, dial and any other value props
-A press release
-A corporate blog post with pictures, walkthrough, video, etc.
-Addition to my webpage with full specs, part numbers, high-res stock photography
-A new product review program (NPRP) cycle with media review samples and a target press list protected by an embargo date
-A comprehensive Q&A to answer potential questions about the product
-A twitter/facebook promotional campaign with a dedicated community manager to answer questions and provide support
-At least some sort of contest to build brand loyalty
-Flagship models would get a ballsy, high-profile stunt to attract attention of non-traditional watch press
-A press presentation to walk press through the product, with NDA press briefings by phone to educate reviewers on the product before their samples arrive

Essentially, I would craft a comprehensive go-to-market strategy for every single watch to ensure that enthusiasts obtain the media and answers they're demanding. The modern watchmaker's approach to media relations is just embarrassing; the fact that I can't find professional reviews or corp. walkthroughts for all sorts of popular watches speaks volumes for how behind the times the watch industry really is.

You would so fire me.

Maybe doing EVERYTHING above is a little overkill (or at least impractical for EVERY model), but in general I like the cut of your jib. I wish I had the scratch to hire a professional of your calibre.

Using my mobile; please pardon the brevity of my reply, and any typos.
You can't be CEO, COO and Director of PR! The executive team of any company should be insulated from the media and/or scutiny by a layer of PR/marketing empowered with the ability to: answer tough questions and make the decisions that they feel are right to defend the company from itself and/or promote the virtues/values of the company. Execs should be used sparingly to provide an extra level of prestige on a product, communication or activity.
Ouch. It may be partially due to the alcohol I had earlier, but you're making my head hurt. I can't even tell if you're joking or not.

I'm sooooo not good at PR, but I know enough about "biz-niss" to be dangerous. I'm just astonished at how disjointed some of these companies seem when it comes to their overall new model release strategy.

Whenever I see stuff like this - "stuff" meaning industries where a lot of people seem to not know their a$$ from their elbow - I always tend to think that there's a business to be made from the situation, either by "doing it better" than the competition, or doing it for them, whatever the "it" happens to be.

In trying to answer the "why" of all this, the most reasonable conclusion I can draw is that when a company like Seiko makes a model that people here might be drawn to, i.e. an affordable automatic, they must not make that many of them, and they must figure that they'll sell fast enough, even if "fast enough" is a few years, so why bother investing in promotion, as opposed to their higher end or lower end models, where the investment in production is much higher, so making the further investment in promotion makes sense.

Or I could just be shtoopid.
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I contest the argument of an ROI that's "too small."

The cost of a press release, stock photography, a professionally recorded/edited launch video and a blog is about $10-15K. Seems like a lot, until you realize that you only have to sell 100 units to break even for a $150 watch. That's chicken scratch for a big player like Seiko. Christ, there must be 500 SKX divers on this forum alone--maybe more? And a media review program is a scalable activity, costing only as much as your FOB price * units + shipping to reviewers.

I really can't stomach the notion that there's no ROI for a bigger player investing in budget models. In fact, judging by what I know in my own career experience promoting premium luxury goods: the big ticket items cast the "halo" of quality and prestige, but you don't sell that many. You make those premium models to give consumers a good feeling about your craftsmanship and attention to detail, and they assume it must extend to all levels of your stack.

Meanwhile, it's the entry-level and mainstream models that are volume movers that drive revenue and gross margin, even if that GM/unit is small it adds up fast. That's where you want to invest your money, because that's where most of your money will come from.
I'll play your game you rogue...

Let's say you're right (read: "I think you're right")...but the big brands *ARE* ignoring this segment of the market (affordable/mechanical), or at least, they're not paying much attention to it when it comes to promotion.


If the answer isn't a too small ROI, or an ROI that's perceived to be too small, even erroneously, then what IS the answer?

How do you explain it, or what's your theory about why the big brands don't seem to give much of a crap about promoting their new models? Hell, they don't even seem to be working that hard to promote ANY of their affordable/mechanical models, or very many of their best quartz models. Why are we only hearing/seeing about new models when someone stumbles over them by accident?
I'm surprised that this hasn't been mentioned yet in this thread (and if it has, forgive me for repeating). Have you guys seen member shellerik's excellent Seiko 5 database? SEIKO 5 Finder - Searchable Seiko 5 Catalog. (see

If a hobbyist working in his spare time can come up with this useful catalogue in a few months, imagine what a corporation that has a business interest can do with its resources. Not to mention whereas shellerik had to hunt down information about each watch, the manufacturer should have all the information readily available.

Watch companies must not prioritize publicizing their model lines. Perhaps all their marketing is focused on building brand awareness (rather than model awareness)..
I just saw that for the first time in another thread tonight. It's better than nothing, and better than what Seiko's doing, for that matter.
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