Something for nothing.

Discounts in the watch world.

I wanted to talk about getting discounts, deals or special prices in the watch world and how that's changing, especially with the advent of microbrands. Many brands tout "cutting out the middle man" or on the flip side, they may create an inflated retail so they can trick consumers into getting good deals on sales or with easily attainable discount codes. This can all be a little confusing and requires folks to do their homework on what's a good deal and what isn't


Haggling and negotiating price. I'm sure many of us have had to endure the terrible back and forth of negotiating a car price. I'm sure a few people have also gotten some small percentages off at jewelry stores too. Needless to say, in at least American consumer culture, many brands in different industries have created an opening for price negotiation to exist. So it makes sense that it happens frequently, though I think it's time to start becoming wise to when it's a shrewd tactic to get the best price or when it may be insulting to the purveyor of goods.

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The internet has changed the landscape of retail goods, on one side this allows for more competitive pricing, but it may be harder to gauge how it handles in reality, as retail locations may be non existent. Traditionally, the brand will produce goods, adjust the price so that they can pay manufacturing costs, employees, and to keep the lights on. They'll also add a percentage to allow retailers to get a fair cut. This is where negotiating happens. Generally, the retailer will buy the product at a fixed price, they're supposed to sell it at a fixed price as well, but as we know, sometimes that doesn't always happen. This is to prevent undercutting and devaluing the product. So negotiating with retailers, the discount generally comes out of their cut. In some cases the producer may not care, but in other cases it could damaging to the brand value and perception, it could be undercutting other retailers, and in all cases, it's unfair to the folks that paid full price.

There are pros and cons to every scenario, most of them coming down to ethics. It's not hard to imagine that creating a model for retailers is good because it creates more jobs, but what happens when a retailer is terrible to deal with or has shady practices? What happens when a brand markets themselves as having competitive pricing by cutting out retailers, but just cuts costs elsewhere and keeps a large margin for themselves? Yeah, business, but in the long term greedy practices can damage the industry and make it even more confusing for consumers to navigate it honestly.

So what's the price for me?

What's your job? Can you imagine people coming and asking you for price considerations for what you do on a daily basis? Maybe you're a gourmet chef and you have a diner bypass the waitstaff and come into the kitchen, "Yeah, I know how much raw beef costs, maybe you could charge me $18 instead of $30 for that filet." This chef trained to be able to make steak in a beautiful delicious way (if he didn't, well go somewhere else) and by going and saying his dedication to learning a craft, the time he has invested in his skills, tools, and career isn't worth much more than cost, is demeaning and disrespectful. 

You should be proud to pay.

Your friend is a bartender. She gives you free drinks every now and then, that's awesome, but what do you do? Say thanks and pay your $5 tab? No, you give her a huge tip, because you respect her time, skill, and want to compensate her for that. That tip should be extra big because you got some free drinks. Just because you're close to a person that's a purveyor of goods or services doesn't entitle you to get them for free, that's sending the message that your friendship is worth more than their skills and professional life. Respect their life and personal investments, pay them fairly. Some of the people closest to me don't hesitate to buy my watches, they don't ask for special compensation just for being close to me, and I think that's because they've seen, firsthand, the work that I've devoted to this. And this is where I hope we can change the industry and world, recognizing hard work and compensating it fairly, which gets to my next point.

Know your brand.

Does the brand run sales? Does the brand offer discounts? If they do, then by all means take advantage of it. Some brands don't do it, and yes, haggling can be exhilarating and so can finding that deal. With Orion, discounts isn't something I really do. For Orion, it's multifaceted.

  • Respect for the customers; Knowing that the person across from you paid the same price for the same model is how I can show respect to my customers. If you spent $500 on your watch, but the guy next to you spent $250 on the same thing, how would you feel? Surely you may resent me for obvious reasons. When you ask me for a discount and I say no, I'm not disrespecting you, but I'm letting you know the value of my product and the light that I hold my supporters in.
  • Self respect; I have to be able to make a living. I'm not out to drink Dom Perignon every night and zoom around in an Aston Martin. I want to be able to support myself, those I care about, and invest in Orion. I've made a promise to myself to not stagnate with my brand, but to always climb and improve.
  • Brand value; Giving out lots of discounts, free or promotional product will devalue the brand and product. You'll get people that just poach sales or begin to associate it as lower quality since you know, or can tell, lots of people received a product for free. Most importantly, the message the brand sends when they do this, is that they may not think their product is worth as much as they're selling it for. 

The takeaway

In this day and age, the ability to research a brand is readily available. Look at how they conduct business and match them in kind as an informed consumer. It's totally reasonable to negotiate with a car dealer, they expect to do so. Does a watch brand run discounts and sales? Then maybe yeah, it's okay to ask. Do you ask your bartender friend for free drinks? No, you let them offer. How do we navigate and cultivate a consumer culture in a healthy and fair way? I believe it has to do with educating, learn about who's running the company and what their business model is. With microbrands, you have the opportunity to communicate with the minds that are running it, which I see, as something extremely valuable.