Watch News 7/11/2020

Rolex to Drop New Models September 1

Watch news - death to the Air King?

Coronageddon threw a spanner in the works for Rolex’s annual new model release. When COVID-19 shut down the world economy, the company [quietly] let it be known their new product launch team was skipping the annus horribilis entirely. Watch news! . . .

Rolex has reversed that decision. The Swiss watchmaking giant has [quietly] announced that they’ll unveil their 2020 watches on September 1. The smart money says they’ll show the usual minor modifications and novelty pieces online.

Will Rolex drop the Air King – as in pull it from their model line? Will we [once again] discover how many emeralds and rubies Rolex can put on a Datejust? Watch this space.

Chicago Airport Intercepts 193 Fake Rolex

“NEARLY 200 counterfeit watches were found in late June and early July at a mail facility at O’Hare International Airport,” the AP reports. “U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the facility inspected the 175 parcels containing 193 watches due to incorrect manifests or X-ray anomalies.”

CPB reckons the confiscated timepieces were worth $3.1m, or about $16k per watch. That seems a bit high, depending on the quality of the fakes. It’s unlikely that the fake Rolex haul was a one-off, and the quality of some fake Rolex is astounding. You’ve been warned.

IWC Releases Brady Biopic Trailer

Tom Brady IWC

The car chase and cocaine-snorting scenes in IWC’s Born of a Dream are epic. Just kidding. As the trailer for the Tom Brady biopic indicates, it’s strictly a Hallmark Hall of Famestyle production, full of inspiration and football and inspirational football.

Meanwhile, in Esquire’s pro-IWC puff piece Tom Brady Bought His First IWC Watch Because He Lost a Game. Now He’s a Certified Watch Guy we learn that the Super Bowl champ loves him some . . . wait for it . . . IWC watches. Which includes a pocket watch.

I have quite a few vintage watches, including a 1940s or ’50s IWC pocket watch. I think it’s a very classic, masculine thing. I sometimes wear it with a Tom Ford suit; it’s a unique look.

Hamilton Railway Special pocket watch

There’s a unique quality to pocket watches because they can do things with pocket watches that you can’t do with wristwatches. It almost never leaves my safe, though, because if I dropped it I think it would be impossible to put it back together.

If Tom Brady – Tom Brady – says vintage pocket watches are a “masculine thing,” that’s watch news. If you’re into it, now’s the time to buy a vintage pocket watch (no commission on link), before the prices head into Skybox territory. As for repairing a dropped pocket watch, welcome to my world.

Movado Going Under?

Movado in Macy's

“We are committed to a restructuring plan as part of the Company’s efforts to reduce operating expenses and adjust cash flows in light of the ongoing economic challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the Company’s business.”

That’s Movado’s recent filing with the SEC (click here for pdf). The watch news here: about half of the $20m cash the watchmaker’s put aside for the restructuring will go to employee redundancies (Switzerland is highly unionized). The other half will help “consolidate” facilities.

In other words, Movado’s downsizing to avoid going under. It may well be too little too late.

Watch news - Movado Connect 2.0

No small part of Movado’s fortunes are tied to its licensing deals with ESQ, Coach, Tommy Hilfiger, HUGO BOSS, Juicy Couture and Lacoste – fellow mall-based brands that were facing the smartwatch crisis and retailpocolypse before Coronageddon.

Say goodbye to Movado watch retail at 125 Macy’s, 300 Signet Jewelers (including Kay Jewelers, Zales, Jared, Ernest Jones and Peoples), 19 Nordstroms and 20 Neiman Marcus.

Movado’s licensees face the same fate. The Swiss watchmaker’s attempting to save its bacon with onlines sales, highlighting their $695 Connect 2.0 smartwatch. Wrong answer. Is there a right one?

Bulgari CEO – Sales Down for the Next Two Years

Geneva Watch Days jefe Jean-Christophe Babin

Appearing on Bloomberg TV, Bulgari CEO Jean-Christophe Babin told the interviewer “I’m confident that over a period of 24 months, we will have recovered most of what was lost during Covid.”

Most? How’s that for a reality check? And now back to our regularly scheduled program.

“In our business,” Babin pronounced, “it’s never lost, it’s more postponed.” That’s one theory.

Japanese watch companies bide their time for comebacks 

Citizen depreciation

That’s the headline over at asahi.com. Writer Ryoko Takahashi notes that Citizen and Seiko are moving upmarket. He identifies the trend as the watchmakers’ best hope for survival.

Japanese watchmakers, which created a sensation in the world’s markets with their high-precision quartz watches, thus faced a subsequent price war but are now setting out on a path of adding higher and higher value. But the very market for watch products is growing ever smaller.

Seiko and knife

Figures of the Japan Clock & Watch Association show the volume of shipments by Japanese watchmakers both in the country and abroad combined dropped from 86.6 million units in 2004 to 66.2 million units in 2019 . . .

Citizen has projected that the market for watches in the unit price range of several hundreds of thousands of yen to several millions of yen will remain stable for several years to come. However, the market for cheaper products, costing several tens of thousands of yen or less, will likely shrink due to the impact of smartwatches.

Grand Seiko Anniversary quartz and Merc

Which is why Citizen’s about to launch their own smartwatch and Seiko’s pinning much of its hopes on Grand Seiko.

As for the idea that Citizen and Seiko are “biding their time,” waiting for COVID-19 to go away and the market to recover, I don’t think that’s the right phrase. I’d go with “looking for a lifeline.”

Rapist Thwarted by Smartwatch

Apple SOS screen

“[John Joseph Macindoe] admitted breaking into the woman’s apartment with the intent of raping her,” calgaryherald.com reports. “He found his victim sleeping on her couch, and while he stalked around the apartment she used her smartwatch to contact her boyfriend, who summoned police.

The judge sent the proto-rapist to the slammer for seven-and-a-half years. It’s a solid watch news victory for Apple.

Saying that, the story highlights the fact that most Apple Watch users don’t know how to access the SOS feature.

Target-Wrecking “Karen” Boasts of $40k Rolex

Melissa Rein Lively runs a public relations company in Scottsdale, Arizona. She better hope there’s no such thing as bad publicity – her COVID-mask trashing selfie video went viral.

Some 10 million people watched two Target employees try to make Ms. Lively less so. The PR exec wasn’t having it. “Why? You let everybody else do it … I can’t do it because I’m a blond white woman? That’s wearing a f—ing $40,000 Rolex?”

Did Ms Lively really pay 40 large for what appears to be a ladies Rolex President?

Sure, if she paid full retail. Then again, Lively-by-name, Lively-by-nature may have bought the watch at a discount/pre-owned and touted the full retail price to assert her status. Either way, a watch news lose for Rolex.

’82 Patek Perpetual Chrono Moon Phase Hammers for $607k

$607k Patek

A 1982 18k yellow gold Patek Philippe perpetual calendar chronograph moon phase hammered for $607,590 at Friday’s Bacs & Russo Hong Kong Watch Auction: X. It sold “within estimate.” Some $40k below its top estimate.

F P Journe watch news

Philipps is a bit cagey about the overall auction results, maintaining that “nearly all of the top lots sold within estimates.”

A quick look at the stats reveals that pretty much everything fell within the auctioneer’s estimate. Only an F.P. Journe and a Rolex “Blackout” really blew their top.

Is the pre-owned high end watch market softening or did someone do a bang-up job guessing what the market would bear?

Be sure to check back with us next Sunday for more reliable data.

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