Predictions for 2019
WE’LL HIT PEAK MICRO-BRAND
This year has been notable for the proliferation of small, hipsterish watch companies, sometimes crowdfunded, usually boasting a USP (anything from enamel dials to making a virtue of Chinese design) and always big on Instagram. Watch fans have lapped them up for offering cheaper, more interesting and more niche alternatives to major brands (all things I’m in favour of ). I predict 2019 will see more “microbrands” launch, followed by a natural thinning of the ranks as only the best survive – hopefully not before the big brands get the message.
ECO-CONCERNS TO THE FORE
The imperative to tackle climate change is unavoidable for every industry. Watch brands already yoke their marketing efforts to sustainability and conservation initiatives, and many run carbon-neutral factories. But if they’re serious about being green, it’s time to insist that their eco-friendly credentials extend to their supply chains, not just the shiny Swiss headquarters and ad campaigns.
VINTAGE BREITLING TO BOOM
Since vintage Heuer watches (the forerunner to TAG Heuer) shot up in price between 2014 and 2016, watch pundits have been looking out for the next big thing in the vintage market. All talk now is of Breitling as the one to watch, with new CEO Georges Kern shaking things up and renewing interest in the back catalogue. Nothing is ever certain when it comes to vintage watches, but it would make sense if it were Breitling, when it comes.
BUYING WATCHES COULD GET EASIER
As I mentioned, the business of selling watches is in turmoil. Tied into this is the declining popularity of the watch world’s major trade fair, March’s Baselworld, as numerous exhibitors – notably the Swatch Group, including Omega, Breguet and Blancpain – pull out. This could be good news for anyone buying a watch: firstly, the tension between retail channels has the potential to lower prices; and secondly, being freed from the schedules of annual product launches means brands can announce new watches much closer to when they’ll actually be available in shops – currently a six to nine month wait is typical. We can but hope, anyway…