Boutique Exclusive Gems

It looks like Richemont is coming up with some pretty awesome boutique edition models this summer.  First it was IWC with a boutique exclusive Big Pilot Perpetual Calendar, and now it is Vacheron with a special edition stainless steel Overseas Perpetual Calendar.

The IWC Big Pilot Perpetual Calendar features a black dial with orange hands and orange numbers that really pop off of the black dial.  The orange stitching on the black crocodile leather strap compliments the dial perfectly.  The 46.2mm watch features an exhibition caseback and will be distributed in both the Las Vegas & Beverly Hills IWC boutiques.  Only 250 pieces will be produced.

Vacheron Constantin’s boutique exclusive perpetual calendar will be distributed in their brand new US boutique on Madison Ave. in New York.  The NYC store is Vacheron’s first boutique in the United States.  It is only fitting that their initial special edition model screams USA.  The boutique edition stainless steel Overseas Perpetual Chronograph has a blue dial, white luminescent hands and hourmarkers, and red chronograph hands.  The strap is blue on the exterior and red on the interior.  Doesn’t it just make you want to get up and yell “USA?”  Only twenty pieces of the model will be produced.

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Watches Gone East

I just recently spoke with a big watch collector, who told me he had an opportunity to eat dinner with the president of A. Lange & Sohne a couple weeks ago.  The high-end German watch brand flies somewhat under the radar, even though they make some of the nicest watches in the world.

I found it really interesting when he told me that the president said the brand could sell every watch they manufacture solely in China; Lange makes approximately 5,000 watches a year.

I have been told many times over that Asia is currently positioned at the center of the watch world. Richemont, the luxury goods company A. Lange & Sohne is a part of, has reported a 51% increase in sales in the Asia-Pacific region, including China, from 2009 to 2010 for the five-month period ending on August 31.  Richemont sales in Japan have increased by 22 percent during the same time span.

Breitling is a brand that I find to be more appealing to the European and American markets with their larger and sportier pieces.  Dressy and complicated timepieces have historically been more in line with the likes of the Asian watch market.

That being said, there definitely is a Breitling presence in Asia.  The Japanese Breitling website, www.breitling.co.jp, is one of the coolest Breitling sites I have seen.  The “fitting” portion of the site, allowing you to configure any Breitling model with whatever dial color and strap/bracelet combination you like, is awesome!

Check out the "fitting" section on www.breitling.co.jp!

I cannot help but wonder if Breitling will continue to grow in the Asian markets along with the rest of the industry.  I believe that it can, especially with the new pieces Breitling is releasing.  I know Breitling does not do as much advertising in Asia as they do in other parts of the world, but I think that it could pay off if they did.  Do you agree?

I think the emergence of the B01 movement has brought Breitling to a whole new level.  I see no reason why the brand cannot have success all across the globe.

The Independents

Breitling has been a solid independent watch company since 1884.  Many high-end watch brands today are part of a larger group of companies.  For instance, IWC is part of the Richemont group, a Swiss luxury goods company founded in 1988, and Blancpain is part of the Swatch Group, a Swiss conglomerate that is now the biggest watch manufacturer in the world.

While Breitling is one of the independent watch companies that is still going strong and extremely popular, several other independent watch brands were unfortunately not able to survive the worst part of the recent recession.  One of those particular brands was a company called Wyler Geneve.

Wyler timepieces are extremely cool; they have a unique shape and lie incredibly well on the wrist.  The cases are flawlessly attached to the straps, and many of the watches have exhibition casebacks.  I really like some of them and just recently found myself wondering why the company did not make it.

Wyler Geneve

I decided to research some of the old Wyler retail prices and saw that their stainless steel chronograph on a rubber strap retailed for $10,800.  Doesn’t that seem a little high?  The watches do have an incaflex dial that makes them able to withstand a great deal of pressure, but it is not like they house a unique in-house movement or anything; Wyler Geneve watches use ETA base movements just like approximately 75% of the automatic Swiss watches on the market today.

I think the price point was the main reason for the company’s downfall. You are able to get a Breitling stainless steel automatic chronograph for under 5k!  That is less than half of what you would have had to pay for a Wyler stainless steel chrono…  Let’s be real; at the end of the day, price definitely matters.  There are a lot of awesome watches out there, and in order for a company’s line of watches to sell well, they must be priced appropriately and competitively.

Do you agree with where I am coming from?  Do you think Wyler Geneve watches would have sold better had they not had such a high price tag?