Grinding Gears: 5 Steps to a Successful Heritage Reissue

Are you a Swiss watchmaker who wants to make money without putting in the hard work of creating an original design? If you answered yes, oh boy, have you clicked on the right article — welcome to the Grinding Gears guide to a commercially successful heritage, where we show you how to make your own unoriginal and uninspired vintage revival in five easy steps, all you need to bring is the CNC machinery.

Image Credit to Europastar: owner of these images.

Step 1 — Check out the archives

Before you (re)create your masterpiece, you need to find some inspiration, so find the key to the storage facility; send an intern or three out there with the brief of finding product catalogues and sales records from the 1950s through to the 1980s. Now, if you've already been pillaging your archives for inspiration, you might have to work a bit harder (you never know when you'll find some prototypes in the attic), but if you're new to the game, it shouldn't be too hard, find your commercially most successful models from a few generations ago, and there you go. This is your next hit.

Image Credit to Europastar: owner of these images.

Step 2 — Essential Updates

Of course, you can't just recreate a faithful reproduction of your historical bestseller; you need to make some key changes to ensure it is relevant to the modern audience. Firstly, change up the dial colours. Sure, black and white are safe options, but why not go crazy and make a navy blue or olive green option? Ensure that this coloured model is the most attractive, and you can also restrict it to your boutiques and charge a premium for it. But dial colour is the first of many important updates you need to consider. There's sizing. You can't keep it at the original 36mm; you clearly need to make it bigger. The bare minimum is 39mm, and 41mm is widely accepted. If you think the watch will be popular in America, make it 44mm. Finally, the date window. Even if the original didn't have one, you need to include one in the remake. The main choice you have is between placing it at six or at four.

Step 3 — Production

We don't need to tell you how much watch production has improved in the last 40 years or so. Chinese-produced bracelets in the 70s were terrible; the ones they make today are just as good as those that can be made in Switzerland. As for movements, you could make them in-house, or you could change one tiny detail on a Sellita movement and say you did. Do make sure the crystal is sapphire now, though; that's one thing people seem to care about.

Step 4 — Pricing

There's a well-established formula for pricing a new heritage reissue. Work out your actual hard costs, take that figure, multiply it by a number between 17 and 54, and finally add at least one zero to it. There you have it, the market price of your new heritage revival watch.

Step 5 — Marketing

The final and perhaps most important step happens in the six months prior to the release of a watch. Call all your influential vintage dealer and auctioneer friends, and let them know what's coming, so they can buy up all the vintage stock for cheap. Then, get them to start relentlessly posting and hyping up historical models. Maybe consign one at auction and then bid it up to a record high. Eventually, all your (other) friends in media will catch on and start writing breathless editorials about this forgotten gem. At this point, the watch will practically market itself.


So there you have it: five easy steps to a surefire commercial hit that requires minimal creativity. Don't worry about overusing this strategy either; many of the biggest brands on the market have gotten to where they are today thanks to a handful of original designs made 50 years ago.


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