"Brands"... the modern plague and another reason to buy vintage

In line with the various topics on "speculator" brands (PP, Rolex, Omega, ...), let's not forget that modern branding is conducted by very few mega corporations and the value of the watches is decided by board rooms, and what we end up accepting as the price of a watch all depends on how good those guys are in branding and marketing.

Very few watch makers make it on their own out of their true worth (independants come to mind as those few who are solely judged on their mechanical worth). Maurice Lacroix for example is also coming out as being recognized more and more; I can see lots of surprises from those guys in the next few years if they succeed with things like the Memory 1. Maurice Lacroix is not part of one of the mega-corporations, that is how they can achieve this. Lange achieved superstardom status pretty much on their own worth too.

The biggest "soul" issue I have with VC is that it is part of a mega-corporation.... its brand status is controlled by board rooms who also own Lange and many others. Lange has been placed as the highend brand, over VC. You can see that in the prices for "bread and butter" watches mostly.

Another reason to like vintage better? I feel like I buy less of the modern "brand" which is imposed on us and more of the "historically true value" of a watch....

Thoughts from your heart and brain!
01/26/2008 - 01:01

Nico, well formulated!

In a few lines you write it as clear as crystal.

That's why I buy the watches with an &

Until 1938, when Vacheron&Constantin first needed extern help,

they were their own masters.

V&C had to make an amalgamation with JLC, George Ketterer was than marketing director,

at JLC, and together with him Charles Constantin, the last member of the family,

and the CEO of JLC, Henri Wallner met.

Ketter advanced to chairman and of course fell in love with V&C,

and 1965 bought out the shares and became the owner.

His son afterwards followed him,

but passed away 1987 and sheik Yamany took over.

And he sold it to Richemont and the rest is history

So we got to scramble some cash in Hour Lounge,

and buy it back


LOL Doc, you can count on me pitching in a few bucks worth...
01/26/2008 - 14:10
And after we've bought out V&C from the Pinault family we will employ Salma Hayek as the brand's spokeperson!!! ;-))))
even though VC doesn't belong to Pinault I'm all for Salma Hayek
01/26/2008 - 15:26

BTW Salma does like VC, her husband has a perpetual minute repeater 

Sorry if I messed up but somehow I thought Richemont was part of...
01/26/2008 - 16:25

the Pinault's family estate...

BTW, right caliber of the watch for the caliber of the man ;-) 

LOL !!
01/26/2008 - 20:22

That would be a dream come true,

and Stern junior as head buyer


the big question is how important is a brand to us?
01/26/2008 - 13:49

Nico you make some valid points but I'm just wondering if we should systematically shoo off big brands and and praise the small ones. We are seeing more and more inovative pieces comming from smaller brands but often these "conversation" pieces never hit the stores because they are impossible to make as a production pieces. Rogers Smith once told me that he had immense respect for brands such as Patek or VC who managed to make thousands of pieces with a consistent high quality. "No one realises how difficult that is" he said! For me the brand on the dial is important (not as an investment) but as a guarantee of something well done and lasting. That the brand was a high end brand when it started and is still today. If I put my hard earned cash in a watch I want to be sure that down the road if anything goes wrong I can have it serviced and this is not systematically the case with many of these new smaller brands who come up with WOW pieces and disappear soon after. I'm not throwing stones at the smaller brands and I'm a great defender of the independents but we are living a weird era where low and medium end brands all want a part of the high horology cake and we hae brands who used to make quartz watches only a few years ago jumping the wagon and trying to go high scale with WOW pieces with the adequate price tag. The problem is that you don't become inovative and high end with one watch but during time and by offering high quality within your whole range: from time only to the most complicated. I don't think that we should alwats think the big guys are bad and the small ones good. With a well known established brand we pay a premium equal to the seriousness of the brand and our peace of mind. This is even true when buying vintage: why do we buy vintage VCs and not watches from Cyma, Favre Leuba etc...thats bacause VC was a high end manufature 250 years ago, 100, years ago, 50 years ago and today. and if the Packards, Graves, Farouks and the rich of the past bought watches from Patek or Vacheron that's because the brand, even at the time, had an important significance. Just my 2c...

Brand is important when it comes to luxury goods.
01/26/2008 - 18:06

You have to pay so much.  So, the Brand name better justifies it.  This is hard fact.  It depend on individuals to accept it.

In Asia, people will definitely say: "WOW Patek or WOW Rolex (for right or wrong reason)".  I have not seen or heard a person says: "WOW VC".  Only when I wear my VC skeleton, people will still not say "WOW VC". Instead, they say :"WOW very nice skeleton".  I am happy as the quality of the watch shows that VC's work and its true value in the watch has surpassed the Brand name.

Today, if I sell any of my Pateks, I will definitely make a decent profit.  However, for my VC, I am only confident that there is only one piece that will help me make profit.  Do I care? I don't.



Alex, you make a very valid point
01/26/2008 - 18:16

What a "brand name" represents and stands for can be either based on historical value, trustworthiness and real quality, or, unfortunately in our modern world, based on board room decisions and multimillion dollar branding, advertising and marketing campaigns.

VC is part of the former: to be at the top for 250 years and never waivering is a true sign of high quality, dedication and above all timelessness. What I am slightly afraid of is that some of this might fall victim to the modern craze and marketing. I would not want to see VC turn into the later type of brand simply because they could make higher returns for shareholders (see thread on PP)....

My point about the the small/independants is that they do not have the mega-corporations' kind of backing and therefore if they rise to the top (and stay there) then it would be due to real quality and not money. As a good comparison, it is a bit like music groups that either rise by themselves or are backed by multi-million dollar music corporations.

VC rose to the top on their own and outlived just about anybody else. I just really do not want to see board directors take short-term money-grabbing views and instead stick to the real true core worth of VC...

This is what scares me:
01/26/2008 - 19:28

this "brand positioning" and all the mass manipulation it entails and the "fake" worth added to brands or taken away from brands simply to fill corporate goals. (table taken from Pictet report "The Watch Industry, What makes it tick?", november 2003). It is around 4-5 years old, but it probably has gotten worse...

and this one: look at the "factory-gate" prices... it makes you want to cry for all the premiums you pay simply for the "brand name". I wouldn't mind if I trusted that "brand name", but in our modern world this is sometimes not possible anymore as brand names might be simply some artificial figment of our imagination put there against our will by "Brand Positioning" campaigns and all that follows (ads, marketing, etc...).

At least with VC we know what the brand represents and signifies, I just don't want that to be artificially taken away...