Opinion: Why Bother Talking About Sold-Out Watches?
There I was, at the ungodly hour of 6:45am (which is about the middle of the night for a night owl like me) and I was up waiting for the Kurono Tokyo Calendrier Type I to go on sale. The purchase window for Japanese customers had ended and in just under 15 minutes, the general sales window for this microbrand watch would open.
I've done this now for Zelos and Traska in the last few months (twice for Zelos!). Both those other watches have sold out. I couldn't even get the Zelos Comet Aventurine I wanted and had to "settle" for the Tuxedo version. I missed the last Studio Underd0g drop because I waffled between the Goofy Panda and the Desert Sky colorways for too long.
All those watches sold out, some in seconds, most in minutes, while a few last for some hours. In the case of Zelos and Kurono Tokyo, those watches won't be made again. If I was "just" a collector, then having any of these hard-to-purchase sold-out units would be a source of joy it and of itself. However, since I started this blog, I am aiming to build a sustainable business out of covering the independent and microbrand watch world. In that case, it bears asking why I'd cover — specifically why I would review — a watch that has been sold out and can no longer be bought by the folks reading this blog (hi Mom!).
A friend of mine actually asked me that question in a pretty direct manner. "What's the point," he asked, "of covering a watch that is unattainable by your audience? I mean, one assumes that people would come to your blog and read about a watch that they are considering buying. Why would anyone read about a watch they can't buy?"
Okay, fair point. I had to think about that. Why should I spend my time — and my money — on a watch that's sold out for months or never going to be made again?
Well, here are three reasons why.
You CAN still buy a sold-out watch
I mean, this one's kind of obvious: you CAN still buy a watch that's sold out. You just have to get it on the secondary market.
Since we're talking about Kurono Tokyo, a quick search of WatchRecon shows a bunch of models for sale. Granted, each one is well above retail price; this Blue Seiji, for example, is selling for $3900, which is more than twice its retail price of $1793. But if you want it badly enough, you can still get it.
WatchRecon, by the way, has been very useful for me to price out certain watches. It aggregates results from a few different sources to give you a pretty nice overview.
Doing a review of a sold-out timepiece is a resource that someone who is looking at picking something up on the secondary market would find useful.
Past can be prologue
There's an aphorism that goes something like this: "Past performance is not indicative of future results." While this can be true of just about any field, the opposite is just as often — if not more so — true when it comes to watch makers.
For example: when Zelos releases a new timepiece, you can be sure that they will make it a high-quality, well-finished piece with the same attention to detail that their past timepieces have exhibited. When the Spearfish came out, I'd already read past reviews of other Zelos models and had my credit card ready to go when that watch went on sale.
So many reviewers around the web — particularly on YouTube — have reviewed Zelos' past pieces that a pattern has emerged: you know that, at the very least, Zelos will make well-built, well-finished watches with solid, reliable movements. The only question that then remains is, will you like the look of their next release? If the answer is yes, then you don't need to agonize over fit, finish, and performance; you know, based on their history, that those will all likely be excellent.
Knowing that past models — even sold-out ones — had gotten good reviews gave me the confidence to buy that Spearfish sight-unseen. It paid off; I just received my third Zelos unit (the Vitesse chrono) and I was proven right; it is a solid watch.
Then there's the Mark factor
No, in this case, Mark isn't a person. In this case, I'm using it to refer to the version of a particular watch model. The term "Mark" comes from military parlance; the word means "model" in that context and is usually followed by a number to designate the version of that model, such as Mark I, Mark II, etc.
A number of makers will not reproduce the exact same model of a watch. Zelos is (in)famous for this; I can't remember the last time the reissued a watch. However, like some of their contemporaries Zelos did issue not just a Mark 2, but also a Mark 3 version of one of their most popular watches, the Mako. I just posted about a Mako V3 Ti "Frost" variant in this past week's pre-owned deals blog.
Christopher Ward is another. I snagged a Mk. 3 version of their C60 Trident in the new (at the time) 40mm size that was introduced as part of the Mark 3 release.
In some cases, reviews of watches that are no longer sold can even prompt a maker to reissue a previous version. Case in point: Boldr.
Boldr had already issued a Mark II version of their Expedition field watch. The Mark II wasn't a bad watch by any stretch, but the Mark I had a certain amount of old-word charm that the more angular Mark II variant just didn't have.
Bowing to the requests of fans and reviewers alike (okay I'm guessing at this part), Boldr reissued the Mark I in three outstanding colorways. I bought the Karakum (black dial) immediately and it has gone on to be my rough wear watch, seeing a lot of abuse and has the marks to prove it.
Heh. "Marks" to prove it.
See what I did there? Cause... "marks"... and it's a "Mark I"...
I'll... show myself out.
Those are the three main reasons I still talk about watches that are sold out. The independent/microbrand world is all too often dealing with the kind of resource scarcity that the big boys from Swatch, LVMH, Seiko, etc. don't have to contend with to the same extend as, say, a Christopher Ward or a Traska. So the smaller brands produce in small batches or limited editions. My favorite Farer watch is a limited edition, as is my favorite NH35-based watch (yeah, that's a thing! It's the Nodus Sector Field Black DLC, in case you were wondering). When they're gone, they're gone, but there's still reason for you to read or watch videos/reels/stories/whatever about them.
That and, well, I have to justify why I want to buy a watch I know is about to sell out. Making you read about them seems like a perfect valid excuse. So, yeah, thanks for that.