The Rise of Direct to Consumer Watch Brands
Direct-to-Consumer, or D2C, is an eCommerce strategy that enables brands or manufacturers to sell directly to consumers, cutting out the middlemen. In other words, it shortens the supply chain by removing the middlemen like retailers and introducing the goods directly to the market, i.e., going straight to the buyers. The D2C is a booming industry at that moment, which was further strengthened through the pandemic as many manufacturers were looking for ways to cut down the prices for selling their goods, and consumers started expecting more transparency and quicker services from their product providers.
(Image Credit BA111OD)
The Swiss watch brand BA111OD is a great example of a D2C. The owner, Thomas Baillod never intended on starting a watch brand, he knew the mid-market was under pressure due to smartwatches, so he wanted to create a spectacular watch that people could connect emotionally with and at the price they could afford. His first BA111OD watch was assembled in the Swiss town of Neuchâtel and posted on LinkedIn, which made him around £30,000 in only 36 hours. BA111OD now uses ‘afluendors’ to help sell watches in exchange for gifts and experiences. Anyone who buys a BA111OD watch can become an ‘alfluendors’.
(Image Credit Massena Lab)
The owner of Massena Lab, William Massena, also has an unusual approach to selling watches. He first started off by collaborating with the Austrian watch company Habring, thinking it would take about six months to sell out but actually sold out within 5 hours. His next collaboration came in March 2020, with the young Italian micro-brand Unimatic, which sold out in 53 seconds. He has done collabs with watch manufacturers such as MB&F. However, without the internet none of this would have been possible as he would have required a whole distribution line. He currently works from his kitchen with no need to have an office or showroom due to cutting out the middlemen. His watches now resell for two or even three times the retail price.
(Image Credit Hegid)
Five years ago, Henrick Gauché and his two business partners created the watch brand Hegid, which would ‘give power back to the consumers.’ Their concept was to offer a ‘sustainable, personalised and playful watch at a fair price.’ They developed a mix-and-match modular system called ‘EVOL’ that gave customers that choice of capsule, centrepiece that contains the mechanical movement dial and hand; the ‘carrure’ which includes the case, bezel, and lugs; and the strap. For around $3,000 - $5,000 one watch can become multiple watches to create a unique watch for any occasion. Although the French brand was conceived online and grew digitally, it has now moved into physical spaces too, making a hybrid approach.
These D2C brands are just the start of an exciting and emerging sector within the watch industry, introducing new styles and innovation to all watch enthusiasts and collectors alike.