By: Michelle Inman
Kickstarter and other crowdfunding sites can be a plentiful source of watches for potential collectors looking for something new. But will the watches produced by these campaigns be valuable in later years or simply a failed vanity project for the designer?
Why look at crowdfunding websites?
Crowdfunding websites allow both individual designers and brands to create products, such as watches, without a large financial investment upfront. The main advantage of using a crowdfunding platform is that instead of making a product and then having to market and sell it, the product is marketed through the crowdfunding campaign and is funded by buyers. This allows designers and brands who have a great idea to bring it to fruition without large financial risk and without limitations.
Marketing the product and funding it through a crowdfunding website means that there is a freedom in design that you don’t necessarily get with traditional product investment and development. Designers and brands can try thinking outside of the box and create innovative and unique watches that they otherwise may not have been able to. These watches are also more likely to succeed in the market place as they attract a loyal following with a genuine interest in their product.
Those funding a campaign are likely to be attracted to a timepiece for its innovative design or quality of craftsmanship. In addition a popular crowdfunding campaign can result in positive press coverage as it passes through it’s funding targets and therefore further expand the reach of the brand.
Kickstarter is one of the most popular crowdfunding websites, especially for watch designers and companies. Some campaigns are very successful, some are moderately successful and some fail to reach their funding goals at all. Regardless of funding, watches made for these campaigns may go on to be manufactured and sold on a larger scaled or alternatively, they may never be made again. What happens to a company and the watch design after the crowdfunding campaign is what determines whether a watch is likely to become collectable or not.
Original Grain launched a campaign on Kickstarter in 2013 with their unique idea to make a watch out of wood from reclaimed whiskey barrels. The Kickstarter campaign was highly successful and the company has gone on to open an online store, where you can buy the original wood and steel design for $189 and other new designs available at a variety of prices.
In the case of the wood and steel timepieces made by Original Grain, they are unlikely to become collectable in the future because the same pieces are now still sold through the online store and in unlimited quantities. Therefore, they are unlikely to be particularly rare unless the first watches sold through Kickstarter had something different about their manufacture or design that can differentiate them from the ones still being sold today.
In January 2013, another watch - dubbed the ‘world’s thinnest watch’ - was launched as a $1 million Kickstarter campaign. The CST-01 watch featured a thin bracelet e-ink design and the idea took the world by storm, with the technology industry closely following the crowdfunding campaign. Backers expected the watches to ship out the same year.
However, throughout 2013 and 2014, no watches were shipped out. The creators referred to issues with production and seemed to keep amending their design. In 2015, with just 130 timepieces produced, the campaign ran out of money and production was ceased permanently. It’s possible that these 130 watches could become collectable in future if they are robust enough to stand the test of time.
Whether you look to invest in a watch from a Kickstarter campaign or purchase one traditionally through an online store or high street shop, it’s best to purchase limited editions or special runs if you’re hoping that the timepiece will increase in value with time and become collectable.
The Genesis X1-A Swiss Automatic watch by LIV was launched through a Kickstarter campaign and was the ‘most funded timepiece in crowdfunding history’ because it had full funding in just 11 hours. This incredibly successful campaign has meant that the campaign founders have been able to increase production scale and expand to other platforms such as their own online store. While LIV still make and sell Genesis X1 models, the models sold through the Kickstarter campaign were limited edition. Their rarity is likely to make them collectable in future; perhaps more so because the brand has since grown and people may like to own a little bit of the company’s early history.
Whatever the timepiece you choose to invest in, there are some golden rules to abide by to have the best chance of owning a valuable and collectable watch.
- Firstly, take good care of the watch – the better condition it is in, the higher it’s value will be.
- Secondly, try to purchase rare models or designs – preferably limited editions or models that were manufactured in only small quantities.
- Thirdly, prioritise quality of craftsmanship over raw materials: a watch that is in good working condition and can stand the test of time, will be likely to be more valuable than a poorly crafted watch made out of precious metals.
- Fourthly, embrace innovation. Not all new and unique watch designs launched through crowdfunding sites will be a success but the potential for imaginative and innovative design is almost limitless. You never know which watch may become the next rare and coveted timepiece.