In the watch world, there is a tremendous amount of money in mediocrity. I am not talking about quality here because, quite frankly, it has been quite a while since I have seen a watch that was not up to par in that area. This was a different case when I started in the late 1990s. The quality of some watches was shaky at best, but fortunately, those days are long gone. However, one thing that is unfortunately still present within the industry is mediocrity in design, and for a good reason, as there is a lot of money to be made this way.
Take the Rolex Submariner for example. Every brand dreams of having such a successful design in its line-up. While some take this as inspiration to push the envelope in a different direction, others blatantly copy it, with a few touches of their own, and sell such a watch. The secret is that they often don’t do too poorly, as the public loves those watches, but not everybody can afford or wants to have the original design. So there is money in mediocrity of design.
The question is, how bad is this? Through our passion, we sometimes fail to understand that watch brands are still companies with the purpose of making money. It also offers to watch collectors an opportunity to have a particular style of watch without having to pay the (often) hefty price tag of the original. Let us also not forget that developing a new and innovative style costs time and money, with no guarantees for success. However, this is a road that will allow you to stay true to yourself, as there is no substitute for originality. We also see that brands that commit to this get their own following, but more so, add something substantial to the industry as a whole.
You, as a customer and collector, can influence this by seeking out such designs and adding them to your collection. They might not be instantly recognized when you are out in the street (which can be an advantage these days as well), but at least you own an original design. Also, buying something that looks like the watch you actually want doesn’t get rid of the itch for the original, and that is something I learned the hard way myself.