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Discussion Starter #1
So I read that Maurice LeCroix has been put up for sale. The company that owns them, is getting out of the luxury watch business. The problems they are experiencing are similar to the problems many smaller and midsized watch makers are facing. Namely, A drop in demand for luxury goods from Europe, Hong Kong, China, combined with the inconvenient strength of the Swiss currency.
The guy at my local used watch shop thinks that this will become a common problem and there will be a lot of shake up in the Swiss watch industry.
This is made me think about the viability of an American-made, American design mechanical movement. There are several well-known American watch brands, some of them only American owned but produced in Switzerland, and some of them manufactured here in the states except for the movement. With the move by ETA deciding to not sell their movements anymore, I think this idea has merit.
In my inexperienced view, all it would take is one or two talented artisans to design a few movements, then a company like Shinola or Detroit watch company, or a separate American company could invest in the CNC equipment needed to make precision parts. The possibility of a sometimes lower tax structure, low materials cost, and low energy costs here would be advantages.
I would probably be first in line to buy one of these watches if they existed.
Or am I just hopelessly naïve?


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This works be an awesome move, in my opinion. The jobs created would help with the economy, and development would advance considerably, seeing as there's now competition to the Swiss for high quality movements. Hell, even the Chinese may up their game.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I hope you have a fat wallet. What you propose will cost a bundle for the product. What's an RGM with the Hamilton movement go for??
Well I would not be the one financing the development of the watch. I just want to buy one watch
. It would be worth 5 0r 6 grand to me to be able to buy a new, US made and developed movement and watch. Maybe that is not enough but I have seen RGM watches for this kind of money and less (not the gold or decked out ones to be sure). The economies of scale would figure hugely.
Or maybe you are correct in you assessment, but all this is academic until this actually happens and we can see what such a watch may cost.
I still think it is a grand idea.....we used to be the leaders in watch technology and that was only 130 or 140 years ago
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I'm pretty sure it's Glycine, not Eterna.


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I think you are Correct. Eterna is part of the Swatch group unless I miss my guess...
Actually it seems LeCroix shopped the watch business to the Swatch group but they replied that they had all of the brands that they needed...
 

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Discussion Starter #9
-the strength of the USD is a head wind-

GLYCINE also for sale along with ML-
True. But it is the strength of the Franc that is causing this problem in SUI. And the cheapness of Real estate, energy, and potentially low taxes here would be advantages.
 

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Slightly off-topic but I want to chime in as well. Competition is always welcome but if it's the kind of competition to drive prices down that's debatable, at least to me. Competition to drive technology, craftsmanship and uniqueness up is good. But we have to find the division between target audiences here. Markets, so to speak. Below a certain price point there's little to gain and even less to offer. Mass produced fashion watches, a mid section populated by strong Japanese brands, micro brands and the lower priced watches from more recognisable Swiss brands. It's upwards from there where the action is and the German brands are giving the Swiss some good competition. But that must be a narrow market and when you go up even further you get into the realms of super complications and very exclusive hand made watches in small quantities. Collector's stuff for the well-heeled. Rolex, not being one of them but with a price bandwidth between roughly $5k to $75K will always be in demand. Because they are Rolex.

It's for the 'Maurice Lacroixs' of this world that I fear. And all the other brands in that category. They have little to offer in terms of exclusivity, lack the resources to develop for instance a killer dive watch with in-house movement and may lose the battle to higher end smart watches.

The advent of the cheap, fully electronic watch almost brought the Swiss watch industry to its knees because it took almost every scrap of watch know-how out of the equation. The movement became a circuit board and even the most lowly quartz watch was infinitely more accurate straight out of the box compared to even the most expensive mechanical watch. The irony is that it was a small conglomerate of Swiss watch manufacturers that started this development. They almost dug their own grave.

One ever growing problem is that the high-end watch market is becoming volatile to stock market results. The customer base that can afford very expensive watches has shifted to 'new money'. Chinese and Russian millionaires. If the stock market dips so do watch sales.

A 'Patek Phillipe' for the masses? Will that be the answer? A Rolex for the milk man? Akin to what Leica is doing now? Badge engineered Japanese digital cameras with Leica firmware. Neither brand needs this and for the mid-range brands it would be admitting to defeat.

I'm very happy in buying the better micro brand watch and will keep on doing this. They provide great value for money, some exclusivity in the form of low production numbers and 'other' designs and bring joy to those who are into this.

The question is if the smart watch will start another renaissance in the watch world. To give the Swiss (read: mechanical) watch industry a slap in the face and wake up call. And in my opinion, sticking an electronic module with BT on the back of a mechanical watch is not the answer.
 
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Discussion Starter #11
I agree on many points, esp with your worry about the “LeCroixs” of the world. With discretionary money tighter, and with a potential continued slowdown in the world economy, the mid priced Swiss makers are in jeopardy. Combine this with ETA not selling movements out of house anymore, and this makes me fear for the likes of Ball, LeCroix or any maker using the ETA movements. I have noticed that many brands have started coming out with in house movements, such as Tag, Breightling and Alpina. More will follow. But smaller houses who do not have deep pockets or who are not part of a larger conglomerate (or who just flat do not wish to bear the cost of the R&D of developing an in house movement) may simply disappear. This could be another “quartz crisis”.
I did read that Shinola was considering making a mechanical movement...
Not sure about the viability of this or if it is possible
 

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a major negative catalyst is the outlawing of wearing swiss watches in the people's land

-just as

the requirement to give a swiss watch as a condition of doing business in the people's republic propelled the industry to prosperity-

-the obverse

the contraction of the industry after that business practice has been eliminated has caught these houses with too many watches as the laws of supply and demand apply their grip with an invisible hand-

mid-level houses with retails @ 50 C notes seem to be especially hard hit as they are liquidated at DOD sites @ 10 C notes-

AS FOR THE CLIMATE FOR LAUNCHING A USA WATCH HOUSE-

- it seems business conditions are difficult...with my previously mentioned strength of USD coupled with unfavorable labor comparisons of US WORKERS vs chinese,vietnamese,russian

- it would have to be some him or her with very deep pockets...a passion & vision...and luck to start a business in unfavorable conditions that winds up in the right place in the future-


-seems like...that kind of energy,brains,money,vision is going into tech & bio tech-

-all just bar wind as my crystal ball is hazy with a chance of flurries-
 

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The only kind of US company who will be able to pull that off will be one like Fossil. They have a multi billion annual turnover but they really, really must have the dedication to do a 'hobby' project like that. And someone in the Board who's into watches. Not for profit but out of pure passion and dedication.

Harman and Kardon did this with a power amplifier somewhere in the Eighties. An amplifier that stunned the high-end world. With half inch gold plated copper bars as conductors for the output to the speakers and over the capacitors that made up the power supply. With laser trimmed and hand picked components, perfectly matched for each channel. Perhaps they lost money on every amp they sold, as does Volkswagen on every Bugatti Veyron they sell (a rumoured US$ 1 million plus).

Yes, if there's dedication, passion and pride it could be done. But who will pay four grand for a Fossil?
 
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