How do micro brands compare to macro brands?

In June 2022, Watchbandit’s list of microbrands (2022) contained nearly 550 names of microbrands.

Doing what could be called “a fish count”, the author would remove 5% of brands that might already have been closed. This leaves a little less than 525 microbrands. If we estimate that they produced in average 1.5 collections of 500 watches each, that puts the volume at almost 400,000 watches over the course of several years. With an average ask price of $250 per watch, that would represent sales of $100 million.

That amounts to the performance of a powerhouse like the Swatch Group owned Hamilton Watch Company in sales, and to the volumes of a powerhouse like LVMH owned TAG Heuer. Even though this is spread across several years, it is no small feat.

The author has been writing on different occasions about a price increase orchestrated by Swiss watchmakers since the 1990s, and their gradual retreat from the Affordable Luxury (retail $200 to $500) and Accessible Core segments ($500 to $1,000), to focus on Premium Core and above.

Watchprojects price tiers

While 2020 exports have been reduced to half of those of 2000, turnover has been increased by 74% over the course of 20 years. The Swiss watch industry is not collapsing: it is being “luxified” (i.e. turned into a luxury industry).

Watchprojects Swiss exports by volume

Watchprojects Swiss exports by value

And it is probably the void left in the Affordable Luxury and Accessible Core segments by that “luxification“ that has created the opportunity for watch microbrands.