Long term feasibility of microbrands (boutique companies)
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  1. #1
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    Long term feasibility of microbrands (boutique companies)

    Just like the resurgence of microbrewery's in the US, I'm excited and fascinated with all the pop up watch companies. They're fun, different, relatively affordable and lots of them are based here in the US. My only reservation is the long term survivability of these brands. Obviously the fly by night Kickstarter brands I don't have much faith in lasting but I'm talking about the ones that have been around a few years- Weiss, Halios, Raven, Autodromo, Baltic, Vaer, etc.

    When I buy a watch I like to think the company is gonna be there years down the road if I need it serviced and to generally add a sense of value to the watch. I definitely believe Weiss is in it for the long haul and I've heard Jason Lim of Halios talk about his desire to make it easy for customers to get service worldwide through partner shops. But as much as I love some of the Autodromo watches I've never heard similar talk. Anyone speak with Bradley Price (Autodromo) at a meet and greet and ask about the future?

    Anyway, anyone else hesitant to pull the trigger on smaller brands with long term serviceability/value in mind?
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    Re: Long term feasibility of microbrands (boutique companies)

    The counter to service concerns is that micros, especially affordable ones, use common, off the shelf movements. You should have little difficulty finding a watchmaker who can service a Sellita or ETA movement. The Seiko and Miyota movements that are popular are inexpensive enough to be considered disposable. Buy a new movement and have someone swap it in. New o-rings shouldn't be a big deal either, since these are pretty standardized. I picked up an assortment of sizes for a few dollars last year so I could replace caseback seals myself.

    The parts you would have to worry about are things like bracelets/clasps, crowns, bezels, and maybe crown stems (especially if threaded). A good watchmaker might be able to source generic replacements for crowns and stems. You can also always use aftermarket straps or bracelets.

    Of course, even if a micro is still in business a decade later, there's no guarantee you'll be able to get a replacement bezel, crown, bracelet, etc... This is true of longstanding big brands as well.
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    I understand what you are saying. Remember though that many of these smaller brands use of the shelf movements that are relatively easy to get serviced. Think basic ETA's or Miyota 9015's etc. If you know a reputable watchmaker in your area who can service these, you shouldn't have a problem. Having said that, I don't know of any reputable watchmaker in my area. For this reason I tend to stick to the well known brands when buying a watch. This gives me the relative ease of mind that I can always send my watch back to the manufacturer for serviceing or in case of a problem.

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  5. #4
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    Re: Long term feasibility of microbrands (boutique companies)

    Your points are why I won’t buy micros. No history, parts issues in the future (most likely) and just because you can make a watch doesn’t mean you know how to run a company or deal with customers.


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    I guess any real guarantees are only possible at the very top end of the watch pyramid. Think Patek Philippe.

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    Re: Long term feasibility of microbrands (boutique companies)

    Quote Originally Posted by J_NL View Post
    I guess any real guarantees are only possible at the very top end of the watch pyramid. Think Patek Philippe.
    That’s totally not true. Many many lower end brands have and will stand the test of time. Seiko, Casio and Timex to name a few


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  8. #7
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    Re: Long term feasibility of microbrands (boutique companies)

    if we're talking one-man/person shops, then there is certainly a concern that the brand could disappear over night (intentionally or unintentionally--should something terrible come to pass). I'd look to microbrands with at least a few unrelated people involved working in a registered/incorporated business. others have already spoken on movement serviceability.
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    I think you misunderstood my point. What I meant was that eventually, only brands such as Patek Philippe will always be able to repair a watch years and years down the road. Hand them a 80-year-old Patek and they'll get it up and running again. Even if they have no parts, they will make parts thus making your Patek 'generation proof'. Ofcourse Seiko, Casio etc. make great watches and stand by their products. They are great brands but in the end, Seiko won't be able to fix your 2019 Seiko 5 model in 2069. That was the point I was trying to make.

    Quote Originally Posted by City74 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by J_NL View Post
    I guess any real guarantees are only possible at the very top end of the watch pyramid. Think Patek Philippe.
    That’s totally not true. Many many lower end brands have and will stand the test of time. Seiko, Casio and Timex to name a few


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    Re: Long term feasibility of microbrands (boutique companies)

    As long as they use standard movement and I have access to a watchmaker, I really don't care about the company history and/or survivability.

    My concern would be if I were to purchase brand new directly from them (ie. customer service)

    But as for the watch itself, if it uses common, standard movement, it doesn't concern me if the company went belly up the next day
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  11. #10
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    Re: Long term feasibility of microbrands (boutique companies)

    This would be a concern for me if I was dropping a significant amount of money (over $2000) on a watch because at that price point I'd like to think the price includes nice things like a commitment to keep the watch alive with service and parts. But since most of the microbrands aren't selling watches at that price point I don't go into the purchase expecting that parts like hands or dials will be available when they need to be replaced 10 years down the road.

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