Getting your hands on a fine timepiece is easier said than done.
Not only are high-end watches by definition quite expensive – both at retail and especially on the aftermarket – but the endless cavalcade of waitlists, stock shortages and limited editions that characterise the luxury watch shopping experience make the entire experience quite inaccessible.
In recent years, crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo have seen a proliferation of independent watch ‘microbrands’ that market themselves as an alternative to this system; as ‘disruptors’ of the watch industry, infuriating purists in the process.
While many of these microbrands offer a genuinely interesting, unique, innovative product, the vast majority of them are simple knock-offs of previously-existing designs with inferior materials and questionable customer service. They purport to be affordable and to “cut out the middleman” – sure, they might be affordable compared to a Richard Mille, but in reality, they’re even more of a rip-off than the traditional players they say they’re an alternative to.
In short, investing in microbrands is a sucker’s game – but enough people get suckered in that they remain profitable enterprises. Unsurprisingly, real watch aficionados despise these microbrands, with one watch fan in particular absolutely skewering their dodgy business practices and cliched marketing pitches in one of the smartest stunts we’ve seen in years.
In character as ‘Charles Ponzi’, Arthur jokes that “it all started when I dropped out of college at the age of 6 to pursue my dream of becoming a multi-billionaire CEO big bucks boss. I had the revelation that the major watch brands weren’t extorting the customer for every penny they were worth.”
“So, I took up the mantle and decided to ‘change the world’… By using just about every dodgy sales tactic in the book, we’ve taken customer exploitation to the next level.”
“By ‘cutting out the middlemen’ (lol that’s secretly us) and using the cheapest materials we can lay our mitts on, we can make way more profit. Therefore, all of our watches are proudly ‘handcrafted’ in Shenzhen (which we call ‘Italy’ or ‘Switzerland’ in our advertising, fingers crossed nobody notices).”
“We’re gonna pretend like it’s to ‘change the world’ or ‘shake up the watch industry’, when in reality I’m just here to make a quick buck. How much money is too much, you say? Well, I don’t believe in placing limits on your ambitions,” he jokes.
Arthur’s elaborate gag is hilarious, but it also quite cleverly sums up all the problems with these microbrands. More often than not, they’re ‘get rich quick’ schemes plotted by people with no real love for horology; all style, no substance. They prey on people’s goodwill and lack of knowledge about watches.
To see them get exposed in such a clever way truly warms our hearts.