Rolex’s little brother recently released their latest Tudor Black Bay Bronze. The new variant boasts a bronze case AND a bronze bracelet. Judging by the number of likes garnered by the BBB on Tudor’s Instagram page, it’s a hit! That’s the good news. The bad news . . .
Brand fans are pissed that they can’t buy the watch at their local Tudor dealer. I mean really pissed. Why should geographical happenstance deny them a chance to strap on a box fresh Black Bay Bronze? Protesters’ comments receive an automated reply, suffused with Swiss sympathy:
“The new Tudor Black Bay 58 Bronze is the first ‘Boutique Edition’ and the watch is only available at selected Tudor boutiques. Please visit tudorwatch.com to find your nearest Official Tudor Boutique.”
Tudor’s first boutique-only watch is causing consternation in countries large and small. You can’t buy a BBB in France, the United States or . . . wait for it . . . Switzerland. [Note: Tudor’s opening its first U.S. boutique in NYC at the end of the year.]
The countries that are blessed with Tudor boutiques: Australia (Melbourne), Bahrain (two), Canada (Toronto), Germany (Cologne), Hong Kong (nine), Italy (Rome), Japan (three), Macau, Mainland China (12), Malaysia (two), the Philippines (Mandaluyong), Singapore (two), South Korea (three), Taiwan (Taipei City), Thailand (two), UAE (two) and the United Kingdom (one).
Frustrated consumers living outside these exalted countries – many unable to travel freely – aren’t the only ones seething at their exclusion from the future patina club. Tudor’s decision to withhold the BBB from their authorized dealers tells us their executives haven’t read Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People.
The boutique-only BBB is a stab in the back for Tudor’s ADs. Thank you for spending years building our brand. And now we’re keeping the good stuff for ourselves. Remember Gordon Gekko? Greed is good!
As we pointed out in back in January, watchmakers took a close look at their dealers’ 40 percent markup and thought nah! We’ll keep that big ‘ole slice of the pie. We’ll sell watches in our own stores, without competitors clamoring for attention. And we’ll data capture the f out of every single customer that visits us.
Watch brand boutiques can’t rely on years of customer loyalty to move the metal. Hence boutique-only timepieces – a proven technique for increasing footfall and generating sales. And a zero-sum game. Every boutique-only sale is a lost sale for an authorized dealer.
Don’t worry that big brother Rolex will catch the boutique-only virus. Geneva’s favorite son doesn’t own any boutiques. There’s no chance Rolex will create a special edition of a “regular” Submariner exclusive to company-owned stores that, like new watches in their ADs’ showcases, don’t exist.
Do worry if you like to buy special edition watches from any other upmarket brand. They’re all doing the “if you want it here it is come and get it” marketing shtick: Bvlgari (the first), IWC, Chopard, Ulysse Nardin, Jaeger-leCoultre, Vacheron Constantin, Breguet, Patek Philippe, everyone.
Rest assured that the Black Bay 58 Bronze will appear on Chrono24, eBay and other gray market websites within hours of its arrival in Tudor boutiques. It will sell for a premium – increasing resentment amongst die hard brand fans.
The watch marks the start of Tudor’s descent into short-termism. It’s a poster child for the luxury watch industry’s dysfunctional relationship with the internet. The Tudor Black Bay Bronze will age extremely well. The boutique-only marketing gambit, not so much.