мар 15, 2018

New Competitor at the Horizon

How a pair of 20-something brothers from Eastern Europe are shaking up the luxury watch scene


To quote vaunted 19th Century French novelist Victor Hugo, "There is nothing as powerful as an idea whose time has come." And though today I'm writing primarily about the upstart luxury wristwatch brand Filippo Loreti, it's not in reference to that watchmaker that I invoke this famed quote. (Wristwatches have been commonplace for more than a century, after all, and are hardly a novel concept.)

In this case, the "idea" in question is the use of online crowdfunding to help launch and scale a product or service. And even more specifically, I'm referring to Kickstarter, the luminary of the slate of new public-benefit corporations that help raise capital for ventures that would likely never have lifted off via traditional business growth models.

For if anyone has ever made good use of Kickstarter, it's Lithuanian-born brothers Danielius and Matas Jakutis, who were in their mid-20s when they launched their first Kickstarter campaign back in 2015.

Their funding goal for their fledgling watch brand Filippo Loreti was $20,000. Within a single month, they raised almost a million dollars. Then, the next year, as the second line of Filippo Loreti watches was unveiled, the company commenced another round of online fundraising. This time, they raided more than five million dollars, again in less than a month. These wildly successful crowdfunding sessions would mark Filippo Loreti as Kickstarter's most funded watch brand ever, and as one of the platform's 20 most successful initiatives to date across all categories.

For the consumer, what this crowdfunding success would ultimately mean is the ability to buy watches for which other brands might charge $1,000 or more between $225 and $315 in most cases. Even their priciest watches currently sells for $609, a bargain in the luxury timepiece category. With quick cash in the coffers, Filippo Loreti could devote less time (and expense, ironically) to raising funds or to establishing partnerships and marketing materials, and could instead get down to the production of chronometers.

Unlike other luxury watch brands, the pieces the company makes won't be seen in jewelry store display cases or in the pages of catalog. Every watch Filippo Loreti makes is purchased online and shipped directly to the customer, a direct sales model that cuts out middlemen and greatly reduces overall costs. In fact, according to Filippo Loreti's own website, the markup costs associated with wholesalers, retailers, advertising, and other expenses associated with traditional luxury watch sales result in a customer paying as much as a 4,000% increase in sale price over production costs. With that figure in mind, you can appreciate how a wristwatch can sell for just a few hundred dollars yet can still be called a luxury item.

I own and wear three Filippo Loreti watches, so you can consider me something of a lightweight collector, but I'll posit that I'm quite familiar with the brand. What strikes me most about the trio of Filippo Loreti watches in my collection is the fact that, although ostensibly similar, each piece has a look and feel all of its own.

My Filippo Loreti watches include the Venice Moonphase Silver, the Venice Moonphase Rose Gold Blue, and the Venice Moonphase Black Gold. Each has a case measuring 40 mm across and nine mm thick, each features a single dial on the right side of the body, and each has a band made of fine Italian leather. On each face you will find three small subdials that track the date, day of the week, and month, and a richly illustrated moonphase set behind a half-moon-shaped cutout. There is an hour hand and a minute hand, though no second hand. The bands are fastened with a simple metal buckle.

As noted, for all their similarity, these three watches look strikingly different and work with different outfits for different occasions. I could wear the Moonphase Silver with faded jeans and a T-shirt, while the Moonphase Blue Gold would look just fine sneaking out beneath a French cuff shot forth from a tuxedo jacket. The Black Gold watch would look at home accentuating a business suit or resting on the bar at an upscale, well, bar.

While I have not had any of my Filippo Loreti watches long enough to see how they last over the years (and neither has anyone else; this brand is brand new in the scheme of things), I can tell you this:

So far, at well under $300, these watches are more than worth their price.

Check out Filippo Loreti's watch collection here.

Business Insider

by Steven John