I'm friendly with the owners of both Hemel and Straton, and so I know a bit about how well they did/do with these watches.
Both made a case which could accommodate both the NE88 and an meca-quartz chrono, which allowed them to meet the case manufacturers' higher MOQs, but without having to order as many NE88's, which is good, because the lower-priced meca-quartz versions sell better.
I think Hemel is sold out of the auto version of the new HFT20, which is great for Hemel, and probably makes people think he should have produced more, but they may not realize the lopsidedness of sales distribution across models and time, which often leads to the ironic result of lower-demand/lower-supply models being sold out first.
Straton as a brand is all about chronos, so they sell more of them, but there again, the less costly meca-quartz versions are made/sold in greater numbers.
Regardless of brand recognition, higher-priced models tend to sell in smaller numbers than lower-priced models, so you're always going to see fewer auto-chronos than quartz chronos or three-handers. But it creates additional challenges for micros especially, inasmuch as so many people will want a "brand name" when they're presented with what a well-made auto-chrono should reasonably cost. This is why most micros tend to stick with proven formulas for sales success.
Personally, I would rather quickly sell 300-500 pieces of a ~$500 three-hander with a low return rate than stretch and struggle to sell as many $800-$1200 auto chronos, where I'd have more money tied up in inventory for a longer time, and a higher return rate. It's just less hassle. Mixing in some meca-quartz chronos doesn't change the picture enough to interest me more.
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