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Here is the US, Micro distilleries abound and everybody is starting to become an authority on - or at least, has a strong opinion about - the "best" bourbons. We now have bourbon collectors, and an active secondary market for in-demand brands. Bottles of Pappy VanWinkle can go for $3k+ in the secondary market. As with certain watch brands, it's hard to find an AD that will make a bottle available to you at suggested retail. Barriers to entry aren't significant, and success appears to be all about branding....

As to watches, there seem to be a gazillion microbrand and Kickstarter options out there - some, excellent, some not so much.

Please understand, I don't have an issue with the market going this way. It's all about choice and free enterprise, right? Just observing how manufacturing capability and entrepreneurial spirit - whether focused on watches or liquor - seems to have accelerated over the last several years.

What is driving this phenomenon? I suspect manufacturing capability + internet mareting + current fashion trends = a robust marketplace for the new and interesting. What do you think?
 

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The fact that is so easy to become a watch company now a day. Anybody with a CNC machine and a slight interest in watches can do it. Pick up a bunch of Sellitas from ofrei and away you go. Everything else can be subbed out to other companies dials, mini logos, hands. those movements come basically assembled. There’s not as much skill as one would think to put a watch together. I do it, I have no formal training, I’ve even sold some. hell I can regulate them with an app on my phone haha! The skill has been removed, that’s why they are everywhere
 

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I think the issue is that these are luxury items that a lot of people use to signify their success to others, and the public consciousness of brands has a very finite capacity. So there are only going to be a few watch brands, whiskey brands, etc that are widely known to people who aren't enthusiasts, and if you want to buy something that will be impressive to most people, you're going to be limit yourself to those brands. This spikes the demand and prices for the few that have "made it" and become household names.

I think the surge of microbrands comes from entrepreneurs seeing the success of those mainstream brands, realizing the massive profit margins involved, and thinking that they have an opportunity to wedge themselves right in the middle of a market inefficiency. What some of them don't seem to realize is that hype doesn't come from specs and quality; it comes from savvy marketing and to some extent luck. You can offer a value based product that's similar, but you're going to mostly be relying on runoff from customers who originally aspired to own the more coveted products but decided to look elsewhere after becoming more knowledgeable. It's a limited market and growing into something bigger takes time and effort, but some are better at it than others.
 

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The fact that is so easy to become a watch company now a day. Anybody with a CNC machine and a slight interest in watches can do it. Pick up a bunch of Sellitas from ofrei and away you go. Everything else can be subbed out to other companies dials, mini logos, hands. those movements come basically assembled. There’s not as much skill as one would think to put a watch together. I do it, I have no formal training, I’ve even sold some. hell I can regulate them with an app on my phone haha! The skill has been removed, that’s why they are everywhere
It's a lot simpler than this. Anyone with some design skills (or not) and a bloated, heritage laden story can contract a Chinese manufacturer to create their design (or pick from a variety of ready made cases/dials/hands/bracelets) and do a run of 300. If they do not even have the money to produce this run and make them available for sale, they will utilize crowdfunding or pre-orders. Pretty lame. These hundreds of available microbrands in turn make for hundreds of fans and then hundreds of watch "experts" because they own a few microbrands.

Sent from my BBB100-1 using Tapatalk
 

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It's a lot simpler than this. Anyone with some design skills (or not) and a bloated, heritage laden story can contract a Chinese manufacturer to create their design (or pick from a variety of ready made cases/dials/hands/bracelets) and do a run of 300. If they do not even have the money to produce this run and make them available for sale, they will utilize crowdfunding or pre-orders. Pretty lame. These hundreds of available microbrands in turn make for hundreds of fans and then hundreds of watch "experts" because they own a few microbrands.

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I was more referring to the higher quality micro brands that use Swiss movements but yes we’re on the same page with it being way to easy to do in today’s world with technology
 

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But few, if any, KS projects create that kind of inflated market; and push come to shove, few micros do either, AFAIK. Heck, how many micros use ADs? One can actually argue that having a dealer network means you're not a micro.

Sure, there's OP 36's and Explorers and some of the top steel luxury sports watches where this is happening, but those are reflective of the market positions of those companies, by and large. I'm not sure this is happening in the entry and mid levels that much.

Where it is happening...mostly in line with Tsugigirl. There is far, far more money than sense out there. There's a major current of "I don't want everything; I'll settle for the best." So for those things that get tagged as hot, or the best, or the like...that's what matters. Not the cost.

I watched a chunk of Phillips' Hong Kong Watch Auction X. It included 5 brand new OP 36's, one in each new dial color. 3 of them went for around $13,000 US after buyers' premium. That's over double MSRP, IIRC. That's what I mean...someone (and I think all 3 went to the same buyer) really, really wanted them and didn't care. That's what drove up steel 5711's too.

You see it in bourbon. I'm not sure if Scotch whisky is seeing this, or if it's increased taxes, but the single malts have gone up 20-30% in a couple of years. Ever hear of Gesha coffee? Wonderful stuff but wow does it get crazy expensive. (Then again, true Kona and Blue Mountain have always been very high.) California Cabernets, red Bordeaux, and almost everything out of Burgundy.

One notable factor is simple exposure to all the information. "What's a really good <fill in the blank>?" Anything you want to ask about, you can find opinions online. Anywhere you are. Everyone knows about Pappy, if they're at all interested in Bourbon...or Blanton's reserves, or Eagle, or.... So demand explodes by a factor of 100.
 

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I am really enjoying all the new companies popping up. Egards new kickstarter masterpiece is great and I am waiting on three more.
One is a diver that is kinda normal but offered in a olive green that you have to spend thousands to get. The other two are like nothing on the mkt right now. Can't wait to get em.
 

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My opinion...

It is a combination of the "gig economy", where many turn their hobbies/interest into income...and some take it further, finding increasing success. Many in the younger 1-2 generations take pride in supporting these entrepreneurs as well


Accompanied with...

A generation that is very high on experiential spend. They can (or have been convinced they can) experience quality, limited availability (small batch/limited build) at a fraction of the price of traditional brands


To give credit where it is due, many micro brands/breweries/distilleries do an outstanding job of building a "fun" brand via social media, etc...the breweries/distilleries also often make their location a trendy destination, further building on the experience

We always spend more for bottles when we have the chance to go, hang out, taste, explore, and just generally enjoy the day
 

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Because:

money > business sense (or common sense for that matter)
 

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I welcome it. For some of them I am sure it's a passion that they're making into reality and that's awesome. The ones that are just in it for a quick buck will fall by the wayside. Those kinds of operations are usually sussed out pretty quickly.

For the microbrands actually doing in-house work and pushing the envelopes of unique design, they've got my blessing (for whatever that's worth haha)
 

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I like the wide variety of choices that micro brands are willing to experiment with and bring to the table. Watches made from booster rockets. Watches made of unique materials or willing to use unique movements or designs. Some do feel like an attempt to make a quick buck or mimic other brands but others are passion projects. Now, I don't think there is a market for a huge number of micros. Most will vanish but those that really innovate will continue. Brands like Lum-Tec continue with their limited models while doing work for other brands. I am not interested in Rolex or even Timex. I like more unique and limited designs. I can't wait for my new BOLDR to show up this week. There is a place for micro brands, just like micro breweries.
 
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