Why Buy a Microbrand Watch vs. a Mainstream Brand?

In a broad sense, whenever most people want to buy something, they consider two options; the big established brand with a global or presence or the small business that only operates in their locality. Such choices cut across virtually any commodity or service imaginable.

From jewelry to clothing, wristwatches and craft beer, consumers often go with either a global or national brand, or a small-scale brand. When investigating such options, you will probably encounter the term “microbrand.”

Microbrands are businesses that provide products or services on a small scale. Unlike large corporations, the people that run micro-brands are often independently operating watch enthusiasts. This nature of operation allows such businesses to build products and sell them directly to the consumers, instead of following a lengthy supply chain with several intermediaries between the manufacturer and final consumer.

In theory, the term microbrand applies to an endless number of businesses in different industries. However, the term is synonymous with small-scale watch businesses. While there are some obvious benefits of opting for mainstream brands, they have their own shortcomings, which create a gap that only micro-brands can fill. Here are some reasons anyone, including watch collectors capable of comfortably affording expensive mainstream brands, should consider microbrands over mainstream brands.


1. Mainstream Watches Are Very Expensive

    With the average prices ranging in the hundreds, watches in the microbrand category are affordable for most people compared to big brand watches, which often cost many times more. While we cannot deny the perks that come with mainstream luxury watches such as better residual values, design, quality and packaging, they will still set you back several thousands of dollars.

    Even though affordability is relatively subjective, paying thousands of dollars for anything will leave a significant dent in the accounts of most people. Furthermore, watch collecting is an addictive hobby, hence the need to buy watches periodically.

    Most watch lovers are okay with occasionally spending a few thousand dollars to buy a unique timepiece from a big brand that has been on their radar for some time. What is even better, however, is spending less money for a wider variety of watches from microbrands. Watch collectors seeking to feed their hunger for variety should consider buying several microbrand watches for the price of a single mainstream luxury watch.


    2. Direct Customer Relationships

      In most cases, big brands sell their watches through a supply chain with a few intermediaries between them and the final customer. Generally, the more intermediaries in a supply chain, the higher the price will be for the final customer.

      Most microbrands, on the other hand, are “a one-man show,” i.e. one person is the founder and owner of the business, designs all the watches, and is in charge of all business operations including customer relations before, during and after a sale. In this business model, customer feedback quickly reaches the business owner and is, therefore, easier to implement.

      Most microbrands can sell their watches online and rely on social media platforms to communicate with customers. The two major users of social media platforms for microbrands are:

      • Reaching a broad audience, especially when the microbrand is still very small thus not capable of affording huge marketing budgets
      • Directly speaking to both current and potential customers


      3.  A Microbrand Might Go Big

        Talent scouts are people who search for talented individuals with marketable qualities or skills before they can monetize their qualities or skills. There are talent scouts in almost every artistic industry, and the watch industry is no exception.

        In a sense, consumers are talent scouts whose major caveat is that they vote using their wallets. Typically, the most effective way of getting quality timepieces at affordable prices is discovering great artists before they become a huge deal.

        Through speculative consumerism, watch enthusiasts can predict the brands, artists and products likely to achieve success in future. This applies to microbrands because nobody knows which person that found a deep passion in watches will end up becoming a successful watchmaker or famous artist.

        While this idea may seem a little far-fetched, isn’t it somewhat logical that excellent microbrands, e.g. Formex will achieve the elusive collectible status someday? They are rare, full of individuality and have a story – what else could anyone ask for in potential collectibles? Furthermore, microbrand owners could possibly become big brand owners in the future. Wouldn’t you feel proud of discovering a classic brand before it became popular?


        4.  No Shortage of Daring Designs

          Mainstream watch brands are often rigid with their limited designs and rarely update them. We cannot blame them, however, because they try to maintain the “legacy factor” as much as possible by maintaining a specific look based on their reputation and history.

          Microbrand watches, on the other hand, can be very flexible with their designs since they strive to stand out from the competition. Also, since the owners do not have to seek the approval of many people, microbrands tend to have more designs and better TTM (time to market) than big brands.


          5.  To Support Other Watch Enthusiasts

            The founders and owners of most micro watch brands are usually watch enthusiasts, just like their potential customers. In fact, an alternative definition of microbrands should highlight that they are companies that specifically target people who are intrigued enough by watches to dedicate a significant chunk of their resources to finding and collecting new ones.

            Transitioning to a watchmaker from a watch lover is no easy feat since it requires significant investments in both time and money. Even despite the convenience and affordability of outsourcing all the manufacturing to an Asian supplier, there is still a lot of work needed to produce a satisfactory and fully functional product, not to mention managing all the logistics involved.

            Having people actively dedicated as both business people and consumers is beneficial for industry economies since it creates diverse business interests. These diverse interests are critical drivers of innovation since they push businesses to broaden mainstream awareness, fix problems and introduce changes while encouraging consumers to try out new ideas.

            Therefore, if you come across a watch enthusiast like you who has taken the leap and become a watchmaker, take a moment to reflect on how people like them make the “watch universe” dynamic and exciting. If possible, go ahead and support such people because you might not only get a good watch but also contribute to the development of even greater microbrand watches.



            Despite their smaller scale of operation, microbrands have their benefits over big-name brands. Microbrands are an excellent platform for people passionate about unique watch designs to bring their ideas to fruition and give consumers fresh products typically not offered by mainstream brands. Through daring designs, competitive pricing and directly interacting with potential customers and enthusiasts, microbrands provide genuine options to watch collectors interested in spicing up their watch collection.

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