In my role as The Time Bum, I have seen many watch ventures come and go, mostly on crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter. Now, bear in mind that I'm no marketing genius. A couple of projects I really liked failed to fund, and some I had dismissed as absolutely awful sold like hotcakes, but I keep seeing the same issues popping up in one campaign after another, and they bug me. I generally ignore these when I write my reviews, but after awhile I started to write them down for my own edification, and once you've got ten, you've got a blog post. So without further ado, here are...
Ten Things That Bug Me in Crowd Funded Watch Projects
1. Mystery Movements. This is not usually an issue with mechanical movements, but saying "Swiss Movement" or "Japanese Quartz" is just not enough. If you don't identify the manufacturer and caliber of the movement in your watch, it makes me wonder if you really know or care.
3. Don't go on and on about your packaging. I'm not saying it isn't important, but it is not what you are selling. I am sure you put in a great deal of effort to get it right. I just don't care because I am not buying the box. The packaging should protect the watch in transit and augment the experience of buying it for the brief period when your customer opens it up. That is it.
4. Quick release spring bars are pretty handy, but they are not new and you most certainly did not invent them. Don't act like you did. Same goes for NATO straps, button studs, and number of other "innovations."
5. Market your watch for its most suitable purpose. It is true that some watches can serve more than one purpose, but if you show me a 48mm sport watch bristling with knobs, screws, and curb feelers and try to tell me I can wear it with a suit, I am just going to laugh.
6. Use quality photographs. The computer is primarily a visual medium, and we all like pictures of watches. Those photos will make or break your project. They don't need to be works of art (seriously, look at what I get away with) but clear, well-lit product shots that show color and detail will go a long way. Same goes for video. I rarely look at them, but many do, and it is yet another opportunity to grab the attention of those early backers.
7. Take advantage of the Internet! It seems almost crazy to have to say it, but I have seen several watch projects launch on Kickstarter with almost zero presence anywhere else. This is a waste because when it comes to free publicity, social media is your friend. Get on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or whatever else might be hot and do it early, before you launch your funding campaign. Get onto watch enthusiast forums and engage your prospective customers. Watchuseek even has a dedicated thread just for start-ups. While you are at it, don't ignore the blogosphere. Reviewers like me are always looking for new material. If we choose to feature your watch, that is one more way to reach potential customers and have them raring to go the minute your campaign goes live.
8. Your watch won't change my life. Call me old fashioned, but I want it to tell the time, and that is about it. I don't want it to give me advice, encouragement, enlightenment, or to change my perception of the value of time. And you know what? It won't, no matter what you print on the dial, emboss on the strap, or engrave into the case back because it's a watch, not the Dalai Lama.
9. Please, please, I am begging you, no more "minimalist" quartz watches. There have been some very nice ones, but by now it has been done to death. If the most innovative thing you can offer is your company name and logo plastered on a bunch of catalog parts, then maybe you should go back to the drawing board.
10. Finally, no matter how much you love your watch, remember it is not a Rolex, Omega, Patek Phillipe, Panerai, or any other well-known, well-established luxury brand. These companies spent decades perfecting their products. They have resources you can only dream about. They are, shall we say, kind of a big deal. The minute you compare your watch to theirs, and say it is just as good for a fraction of the price, a huge and very vocal segment of the watch nerd world will collectively call "bullshit." Maybe this is unfair, but it is what it is, and it is a very easy thing to avoid.