Everybody likes finding a diamond in the rough. There’s a certain thrill attached to being ahead of the curve. The Alternative Investment Market is defined by its runaway success stories, with the majority of stakes that result in nothing but a zero balance being written off as excusable flights of fancy, what about crowd-funded watch brands in particular?
Image Courtesy of Kickstarter
The last couple of years have seen a stunning rise in the number of emergent watchmaking brands rolling out their initial products on crowd funding platforms such as Kickstarter. It is, in short, an investment minefield. So, just what is the investment value of crowd-funded watch brands?
Of course, many of us who approach these nascent brands with dollar signs in our eyes are trying to back a lame winner. We’re looking for that brand that actually does what they all claim to, and that’s to offer something of exceptional quality for a reasonable price.
Those scenarios, however, are rare.
Image Courtesy of Filippo Loreti
It’s easy to get caught up in jaw-dropping success stories, but it’s often a storm in a teacup.
Successful Crowd-funded Watch Brands
The most successful watch brand on Kickstarter in terms of money raised is Filippo Loreti. Crucially, this brand has succeeded in shoving the notion of democratised luxury down the throats of their customers so effectively that they’ll likely feel full for a week.
But this is not luxury. Affordable luxury is almost a contradiction, and any brand charging around $300 for a watch, has not spent a great deal on manufacturing it well. At this price point, you get what you pay for: A trend; a passing fad; fashionable trash… Take your pick.
Slightly more credible in my opinion, are brands that are at least stylistically interesting and have the potential to become cult classics (see the Nezumi Voiture chronograph below for a neat example). At least these brands aren’t trying to sell you a snowball in a heat wave. Crucially, though, none of these ‘investments’ are likely to garner massive rewards.
Image Courtesy of Nezumi
The temptation to spend less because you’ve been promised more is always strong, but the sheer legitimacy of the proposed equation should never be ignored.
Rolex is still the runaway leader when it comes to investment potential. Industry classics like the Jaeger LeCoultre Reverso, the Cartier Santos, the IWC Portugieser, or the Omega Seamaster all have their place in your collection, albeit at a much higher price. As they say: You’ve got to spend money to make money.
And that, if only to a point, is true in watchmaking. True to all investment purchases: Know what you’re buying. Quality costs money, and the best value brands are those with heritage, an excellent customer service track record, and products that a made to stand the test of time, not just record it for as long as they are hip.
About the Author
Fell Jensen is a Swiss-trained watchmaker working as an industry analyst.