I was immediately sidetracked by the the home page’s opening salvo: an interview with ERA Timepieces’ CEO on a local NBC affiliate morning show. The pre-COVID convo was designed to debut the ERA Timepieces Prometheus.
The Palm Springs, California-based latchkey newsbabe – she’s wearing a house key on a string around her neck – pronounced the brand “Era” instead of as the acronym ERA. The news graphics hedged their bets.
The comely interviewer discovers that a tourbillon is “all the fancy stuff in the middle” of the sample watch. Which normally costs a hundred grand, ERA Timepieces CEO Michael Galarza adds – without mentioning the 219-year-old complication’s raison d’etre.
PR flack Zack Teperman fields a question about ERA’s typical customer. The former publicist for recently drowned Glee actress Naya Rivera declares “celebrities kept emailing in saying ‘we need this watch.'” and “if you want fancy-schmancy, this is the watch you want to go to.”
Further down the homepage, ERA tells potential buyers it produces “Certified Millionaire Timepieces.” I wonder how many millionaires submitted themselves to ERA’s certification process. Or maybe ERA has a certificate stating that a millionaire has one of their timepieces.
Shoemaker Johnston & Murphy used this ploy, sending off a pair of shoes to each new U.S. President, boasting that they’ve been “custom designing presidential footwear for over a century and a half.” Influential people not refusing gifts is hardly an endorsement.
I credit ERA with skipping the usual direct-to-you hooey. Our timepieces are just the same as watches that costs thousands more! They’re less expensive because we cut out the middleman. Oh wait, I take that back. There’s the “we save, you save” shtick on the About Us page.
As he got to know the producers better, [CEO Michael Galarza] came to a realization that the actual price he could get these same products made for was many times 10% or 5% of what the eventual retail markup was – far far below what the famous luxury brands charged for them and much higher than the usual markups in standard wholesaling.
He realized that the crazy markup was required for these brands to keep paying for celebrity endorsements and sponsoring global sporting events to try to increase brand strength.
Distracted from the “how do I tell time on the Hyperion” quest, I hit the product page for the Poseidon. The video chronicles Mr. Garlanza’s Kickstarter and IndieGogo campaigns – and then unleashes some conspicuous consumption user photos.
“This next project, however, takes on the most famous watch in the world,” Mr. Garlanza announces. That would be the Rolex Submariner or, in this case, The Watch That Must Not Be Named.
“But when you have always lived like no one else . . . you deserve a timepiece that is as incredibly unique as you are . . the wandering hour diver. A WANDERING HOUR?” Mr Galarza asks, astonished by his own chutzpah.
“Put a wandering hour into any watch, the price explodes.” He illustrates his point using . . . wait for it . . . a $10 Casio F-91W (as above).
Despite lambasting the “Swiss Made” regulatory loophole for Asian assembly on the About Us page, ERA adamantly insists that their watch is made by “Swiss artisans.”
At 3:43, ERA Timepieces’ CEO pronounces this company’s name “era,” so there it is. But then Mr. Garlanza says his watch uses the Era oh-oh-one calibre. Damn it, O is a letter. Zero (0) is a number. This man never called in any artillery strikes!
At some point, I finally learned that the Hyperion’s bottom wheel reveals the hours while the rotating rocket ship’s nose points to the minute (contrary to RF’s assertion in his Instagram New Watch Alert video).
I’m not sure what to make of the actual watch, but I found ERA’s marketing unintentionally amusing. And crass. Hey sucker! We know you want a watch to look rich. Let us cater to this vulgar play acting! Pay no attention to the obvious impossibility of something being both ‘ultra rare and expensive’ but also ‘accessible to all.’
I almost wish I didn’t have a deep disdain for unconventional time displays. Maybe I’d be less immune to ERA’s sales pitch. The world may never know.