- Dec 24, 2011
- Reaction score
Interesting points. I didn't know much about North Face. Although, I know about Hermes handbags, I was not aware of the shortage of their bracelets in Asia.Yes, and no. Brand image is carefully cultivated and protected.
For an example outside of watch brands, North Face was very wary to not become a lifestyle brand in the early 2000s, the reason being the trends come and go, and being perceived as a lifestyle brand rather than a performance brand would hurt their image with their core, outdoor activities oriented, audience. That has changed a bit recently, with editions specifically of classic 90s models, but they are still quite careful with their distribution, though not nearly as restrictive as they were in the early 2000s. They also wanted, for a very long time, to take away the license for North Face Purple Label, which is still only available through Japanese retailers, and is much "trendier". That seems to have passed though, as The North Face, like a lot of companies, have realized that they can control their brand image by distributing different products to different stockists, in different markets. Nike is probably the leader in this.
Hermes boutiques in Asia are notoriously undersupplied, and most likely, completely by design. I have a couple of chaine d'Ancre bracelets that I wear, and I got them really easily. Just pointed and clicked. In one case, I had to wait a bit longer because they had no more for internet only, and a bracelet had to be recalled from a boutique, and made sure that it was up to Hermes standards to sell. I have a Crescendo bracelet that is apparently being forged from rare silver in France, since the original delivery date was pushed back a few more months to about a year from when I first ordered it. But nonetheless, they were happy to do it. By contrast, sought after pieces like the silver Chaine d'Ancre are in notoriously short supply in Asia, and they go for $1000 over the North American retail price on the secondary market. I had to explain to some cousins living in Asia, that while Hermes is well respected in North America, excepting the Kelly and Birkin bags, there is no hype around the brand, not really, nor are there slews of teems who are interested in the jewelry and who could potentially devalue the brand.
LVMH also has some pretty ironclad agreements with retailers stocking their marquee brands.
Rolex is not the only watch company to be slow in understanding its customers and re-aligning itself in the market. Seiko, long seen as a mid-market brand outside of Japan (n Cantonese, there is a bit of a pun that transliterates "Seiko" to mean "Dead poor), decided to go the other way, and make their luxury product their core product for the North American market. I forget who wrote this, but there are horror stories of Rolex tossing very valuable vintage dials and slapping in a brand new one. Because, well, who wouldn't prefer a brand new dial?
That Rolex is pulling the accounts of so many authorized dealers may signal that they are trying to control their brand image more closely.
Rolex is pulling AD accounts, and yes it controls the image of the brand. It also eliminates concerns about discounts and it allows the company to retain 100% of the profit rather than sharing some of it with an AD.
I'm not an oversized watch guy. I only own one watch that is over 40mm. I'm generally most comfortable in cases that are 36-40mm. However, there is a big segment of the market that for many years pushed for watches that are 42mm or larger. Some reached caricature like proportions that seemed unwearable (at least to my eye). Personally, I found some of the VC Patrimony and Piaget Altiplanos became too large considering how thin they were and they looked like pancakes on a leather straps. It does seem to be changing and we have been seeing a return to normal sized dress watches each year (JLC Tribute Reversos, the Cartier Tank Louis Cartier, and Tank Cintree).I think that the Rolex models between 34 mm and 36mm (and also the Omegas Chronographs of the same size) are pretty much perfect. They fit well on most wrists (I think that he lugs are generally around 40-42mm), and are perfectly legible except to the truly visually impaired (so, me without glasses). I can see why some tool watches should be somewhere around 38-40 mm.
Some people say that that a smaller watch looks small on their wrist, but frankly, my vintage Omega Seamaster/DeVille chronographs, at 35mm without a crown, wear as large as a Daytona, which is quite a bit larger. I think that except for really big people, a 36mm watch is never going to look too small.