"Selling watches online isn't the traditional way of doing things, but I firmly believe that it's the future"
How do you explain the success of the Zenith El Primero HODINKEE operation? (25 watches sold in less than an hour, more than 200 people on the waiting list.)
It sounds cheesy, but the success really comes down to something simple: trust. This trust manifested in two ways: We have the most amazing readers and customers who know that when we offer them something special they can trust it is as special as we say it is, and Zenith was a fantastic partner that trusted in the vision we had and went to great lengths to execute it with us.
To go a little deeper on each, we're fortunate to have readers and customers that share our passion for vintage watches and thoughtful design. They got what we were going for with this watch – to create a modern vintage watch – and responded accordingly. Zenith also understood what we wanted to accomplish with this limited edition and didn't compromise our vision. In fact, they bent over backwards, doing little things like making a special crown for this watch so the proportions would be perfect. We couldn't be happier with how the El Primero Original for HODINKEE turned out and it has us energized for future projects.
You started by selling select MB&F Legacy Machines, now you’ve moved on Zenith watches, are you planning to launch more of these types of partnerships? How do you select the brands?
You will be seeing some more partnerships from HODINKEE, including both watches and other products. We can't say too much right now about what's coming, but as with everything else we do, we're only working with brands that we truly believe in. We want to give HODINKEE readers the coolest watches we can imagine, from the top manufactures. We'll be experimenting with various styles and at various price points, so hopefully more people can get involved as we continue along. We're just getting started.
What do you think is holding back Swiss watch brands from selling more online?
What's holding the big brands back is purely mental and cultural. There's a perception amongst a certain group of industry decision makers that the internet isn't "luxurious" and that selling online "cheapens" the product and the experience. We know that this just isn't true. Sure, selling watches online isn't the traditional way of doing things, but I firmly believe that it's the future. Speaking with representatives from the brands that have moved into e-commerce, I'm hearing only good things and I expect we'll see the current state of watch retail change in big ways over the next three to five years. In fact, we had better, or there are going to be a lot more struggling watchmakers out there.