With the ongoing success of select few elite watch brands — that sell far above retail on the secondary market — it’s no surprise that other watch brands are following their lead.
Attempting to manufacture hype, however, is not as easy as just limiting supply, even if that’s the primary control element. Producing far less than the projected demand for a specific timepiece model has a higher chance of causing a level of demand that exceeds supply. And this appears to be the marketing strategy at many watch companies nowadays and has been the premise behind luxury, and limited editions, forever. The caveat is that even if executed successfully, while it rewards loyal owners with high resale, it also makes entry into the brand that much more inaccessible.
If you’re Rolex, you’re big enough you can create barriers to entry with little risk of losing the established customer base. After all, they have very long lists of people wanting to buy in, at all times.
As an independent, however — playing the hype game — the inherent risks are far greater because these smaller companies don’t have the brand cachet or the long waiting lists of Rolex or Richard Mille.
For now, it appears the upside is far greater than the risk of excluding new, and in some cases loyal customers, from purchasing your product. And Max Busser’s decision to soft launch the M.A.D. 1 for $2,100 and make it available to purchase exclusively for past MB&F customers, seems like a good decision. But will this marketing strategy exclude too many customers, will it devalue the MB&F brand, and can it be replicated with future watch launches?
(Editor’s Note: A “soft launch” is where the product release is leaked or given to one outlet versus being launched through an established network of publications.)
What Busser is attempting with this unique marketing strategy, is similar to Hajime Asaoka’s strategy for marketing Kurono. Asaoka, whose accessibly-priced spin-off brand Kurono has been able to create a high level of hype to the point that the resale numbers on the secondary market appear to be sky-high. Although it’s worth noting that a listing on Chrono24 for double or triple retail is not the same thing as a customer actually paying double or triple retail.
Ultimately, we know what’s happening with the staid brands such as Rolex, Patek, Richard Mille, Audemars Piguet, and FP Journe — but is the same thing really happening with independents such as M.A.D. 1 and Kurono, or are they merely manufacturing hype?
Photos by M.A.D. Gallery.