Speaking at NetComm Suisse event

29 01 2016

A week after I spoke at the Webwinkel Vakdagen 2016 event in Utrecht, the Netherlands, I have been invited by NetComm Suisse, the Swiss counterpart of the Thuiswinkel Organisatie to speak during their event: e-Commerce and Digital meet Luxury Watches on Thursday February 2th, 2016 in Geneva, Switzerland.

Alon Ben Josep speaking at Netcomme Suisse event in Geneva

NetComm Suisse enables their members to build a strong community of e-Commerce operators. Through networking events, training, institutional relations and research into the digital market, the organization enables greater consumer confidence in e-Commerce and greater success for operators in the industry. They also engage proactively with the media and international institutions, providing information, concrete data and a voice for the wider industry, seeking above all to help build a more engaged and successful future for the Swiss eCommerce sector.

On February 25th, 2016 NetComm Suisse in collaboration with Fongit will host the “e-Commerce and Digital meet Luxury Watches” event. The event will look at the latest trends in digital and e-Commerce for luxury jewellery and watches industry. In this domain our speakers will share knowledge on:

  • Digital innovation, smartwatches, wearable jewellery devices
  • e-Commerce for the luxury industry
  • Online counterfeiting and digital reputation
  • Digital influence in purchase decisions
  • Start-ups to help solving industry problems

An increasing number of consumers is turning to the internet to get their purchase decision. In addition to that, upwards of 70% of people in Europe have shopped online, amounting to some 247 million consumers, with commerce between countries continuing to grow. As regards the luxury sector, e-Commerce represents an excellent opportunity for the industry, including the smartwatch sector, to open itself up to a global market filled with internet- savvy consumers, add this to Switzerland’s long history of watchmaking, perfectly blending a spirit of artisanship plus innovation, and the opportunities in this particular brand of digital innovation are clear to see.

As you might know I love to speak about my passions: fine watches, diamond jewelry and eCommerce. I am humbled that Netcomme Suisse has heard about me and booked me to speak during this event in Geneva next month. Together with managers from the Swiss luxury industry, companies like: Audemars Piguet, Baume & Mercier, Richemont, I will speak about my experiences in this industry we have built up with Ace Jewelers. I am also very curious to hear what experts from Facebook, eBooster and Deloitte, attending as speakers during this event have to share.

On that day I will travel from Amsterdam to Geneva and at 16.55 hours I will have the honor to speak about the topic: “Digital influence in offline purchase decisions.”

To attend this event, please register via this direct link: Eventbrite.



Will ‘smart watches’ and ‘wearables’ kill the Swiss watch industry?

9 09 2014

The last two years I have been asked many times if I believe that the so-called ‘smart watches‘ and ‘wearables‘ will conquer the valuable ‘wrist real estate‘ from the Swiss watch brands on all of our wrists.

My answer is always and unconditionally: NO!

Sony Smart Watch on Alon Ben Joseph's wrist.

Ace Jewelers was the first Dutch jeweller to sell smart watches. Here is the Sony Smart Watch on my wrist.

I hear you saying: “This Alon is not objective! Not only is he a jeweller and salesman of watches, but also an enormous WatchFreak!” I am indeed guilty of selling watches and privately a huge watch fanatic, but I do believe that I am objective and able to give an answer to this question as I have always ‘lived’ in this industry (the watch industry) and also grown up with electronics.

As a little kid I (born in 1979) I grew up with the resurrection of the Swiss watch industry after it was hit hard in the 1970s. So hard, that it almost whipped out the complete Swiss watch industry (due to the Quartz Crisis). Hence, my first watch at an age of four (in 1983) was a Swatch (couldn’t even read time yet) and have worn the first Casio G-shocks out there. The feeling is creeping up that the complete watch industry (not only the Swiss, but also the Japanese, Chinese and German for that matter) is on the brink of another ‘Quartz Crisis’! (Read more about this crisis: Wikipedia, Haute Horlogerie Assocation and Calibre 11 Blog.)

Swatch watch 30th anniversary Limited Edition.

I still collect Swatch watches today. This is 30th anniversary limited edtion launched in 2013.

Do I think that this is true? No, I do not think we will have a huge ‘live-threatening crisis’ for the (luxury) watch industry on our hands, but I do think that the luxury industry (watches, fashion, cars, etc) are lagging, frozen in their old ways and will get hit… Hit hard. So, it might be a bold statement, but I do dare to say that the luxury industry and the watch industry in particular are on the brink of a huge revolution, after having a great, smooth and exponential growing evolution (for at least three decades)… We all know that (smooth) evolutionary periods are abruptly interrupted by (unexpected and) game-changing revolutions.

Why do I still sound so positive, if that is my opinion/view? Well, I believe that as society, consumer behavior and norms & value change, and they are changing faster than ever before, we will see that we will utilize our ‘wrist real estate’ better… We have two wrists 🙂 So, it doesn’t mean that consumers will throw away their mechanical watches and automatically swap it to a digital smart watch/device. I also expect that eco-friendly smart watches will not only be powered by, for example solar power, but maybe also by (kinetic) mechanical automatic movements… Hybrid watches… Remember the Japanese Seiko Kinetic movements or  the Swiss AutoQuartz movements made by ETA (and used by Omega, Tissot and Swatch for example)?
But, on the other hand, I do believe that the marketing and communication needs to change by the premium brands that manufacture ‘old school’ mechanical watches. As the newest generation that know how to use smart phones and tablet computers before they even know how to crawl or feed themselves, will not even want to wear anything (besides some 3D printed jewelry maybe) on their wrists, arms or any body part for that matter… The sole reason that the Swiss (high-end) watch industry recovered after the Quartz Crisis, is because watches become an even bigger status symbol that it was before the Quartz Crisis in the 1970s and that it gave the owner a romantic sense of feeling and nostalgia. I do not think this will fade with the growing usage of smart devices markets.

I have been walking around with the idea to write an article about this subject for quite some while now. As the editor-in-chief of my favorite (and the best trade magazine in the watch industry) Europa Star, Mr. Pierre M. Maillard, always writes such cutting edge and precise views about the watch industry, he triggered me not only to write my own two cents, but also share his article: Mechanical Intelligence” by P.M. Maillard for September 2014 edition of the English Europa Star Magazine. Although Maillard hardly refers to other articles in his own, he starts of with another article in this one:

An interesting article that appeared recently in The Economist (“The high-tech world of old-world watches”) offered a different take on the implications of the approaching tidal wave of smart watches. The premise of the article is that there is a great deal more innovation in the art of mechanical watchmaking than in supposedly “smart” watches.
According to The Economist, smart watches are no more than a new way of presenting and adapting existing functions and applications in “a mash-up of phone, activity-tracker and music-player.”
And despite the fact that almost two million were sold last year, Endeavour Partners in the USA found that one-third of buyers tire of them rapidly, and simply stop wearing them within six months.
The Economist takes the contrary view that true innovation is to be found in good old-fashioned mechanical watchmaking, stimulated by the “vast profits still made in and around Switzerland’s ‘watch valley’,” and by the “unexpected uses of untraditional materials, that may in time transform the industry.” quoting Maillard in the latest edition in Europa Star Magazine. He indicated that he is skeptical if “the new Messiah Apple” will succeed to kill off the Swiss watch industry single-highhandedly, as he continues:

Although some watchmakers dismiss out of hand any risk of being swallowed up by the technology monster, and others already fear for their lives, the true outcome will probably lie somewhere between the two.

Maillard warns the Swiss watch industry that “it must avoid seeking refuge in denial, as it did during the famous quartz crisis, which came close to sinking the entire industry. Arrogance is a poor counsellor. Nevertheless, the idea that everyone and everything should be constantly connected (because in addition to smart watches we should expect to see smart refrigerators, smart cars, smart baby’s bottles, etc.) will eventually be undone by its own ubiquity.” And, he finishes his great article with a positive note: “Not everyone wants to be permanently plugged in, and the number who do is probably diminishing. One of the virtues of traditional watchmaking is the mechanical poetry that connects us not to the internet but to the cosmos, to the mysteries of time and beauty. And therein perhaps lies its greatest strength.
UP by Jawbone

UP by Jawbone bracelet.

You might wonder what I do with my two wrists. Well, I often (but not always) wear two wrist watches, one on each wrist. It has nothing to do with telling time or having access to two different time zones simultaneously, but do so exclusively due to my obsessive love for the art of watchmaking. Yes, I do own pocket watches and no, I never wear them. And, yes, I do love technology and innovation too. It took me a while to decide if I do want to be a (volunteer) victim of the all new all connected world and I decided that I do and I decided to test a UP by Jawbone bracelet. I just ordered my first one on Amazon yesterday. But, I am also one of these consumers that Maillard refers to: I do not always want to be online. I think we all have this contradiction in us: we often are ‘stuck in this rat race’ of being on top of things all the time (read: super connected and online), where-as (for example in the weekend or during holidays) we embrace and cherish our (complete) downtime (read: unconnected and offline).

To conclude this article/post/my ‘two cents’: I do not think that smart watches like the iWatch by Apple and/or wearables like the UP by Jawbone will kill the premium watch industry. But, I do think that if the watch industry does not at least acknowledge and even better, embrace the new technologies and listen very carefully to the wishes of the (new generation of) consumers, many brands in this industry will perish. And, the gaps in the market will be filled by the Apples, Samsungs and the ‘many Kickstarter projects that we can expect’ of this world. A new generation has already grown up with touch screens, uses smart phones and tablet computers, and these kids will not automatically surrender their wrist to a ‘weird thing on your wrist with a strap that can only tell time’  (that maybe is possible indicated the date and if you are lucky has a chronograph)… They need a totally different method and argument of convincing to buy a watch that needs to be wound by hand, wrist movement, or even worst, can’t be charged by themselves as it has an old school battery inside….

Potential design iWatch by Apple.

When I wrote this article the iWatch was not launched yet, and this picture shows an impression of how it could look like.

So, for now I am going to unpack my new Jawbone UP bracelet, that I am going to wear on ‘the other wrist’, as my left wrist will always be reserved for old school nostalgic mechanical wristwatches. 🙂

PLEASE DO SHARE YOUR TWO CENTS ON THIS SUBJECT HERE BELOW.



My Father, The Inspirator

17 12 2013

My father, David Ben Joseph, has always been (and still is every day) a true inspirator to me. He does not only inspires me, but also our family (members), our extended family (the team) at Ace Jewelers, our customers and his friends, but apparently also the international chief editor of 00/24 Watch World magazines. Apparently my dad inspired him so much during and even a while after an interview they did, the editor wrote a column about it:

David Ben Joseph

Kinderspel
by Lex Stolk

“Ik verlaat juwelier Ace & Spyer aan het Amsterdamse Koningsplein met knagende ambivalentie. Mijn gesprek met eigenaar David Ben Joseph was amicaal, enthousiasmerend en verhelderend. Tot zover niets tweeslachtigs. Toch kauwen mijn hersenen op een flard uit het gesprek dat hardnekkig op de voorgrond van mijn gedachten blijft. Wat mijn denken vasthoudt, is het verhaal van David dat hij als kleine jongen zijn horloge keer op keer uitelkaar haalde. Hij was zo gefascineerd
door het feit dat een verzameling radertjes, asjes en veertjes zo nauwkeurig de tijd kon weergeven, dat hij op onderzoek ging. Hij maakte de kast open, aanschouwde het ‘geheim’ en dook vervolgens nog verder in het avontuur door het tikkende mechaniek te demonteren om het maar beter te kunnen doorgronden. Keer op keer herhaalde hij die handeling totdat het in- en uit elkaar zetten van het uurwerkje uiteindelijk feilloos verliep.

Uiteindelijk onthulde hij het geheim van zijn horloge zonder de betovering te verbreken. Zijn kinderspel leidde ten slotte tot een eigen zaak met vele mechanische tophorloges. Tijdens het verhaal van David denk ik aan mijn eigen kind van twaalf en aan vele andere kinderen die niet zoveel anders zullen zijn als de jonge onderzoeker David Ben Joseph. Nieuwsgierige geesten die zichzelf en de wereld ontdekken en spelenderwijs hun talenten ontplooien. Maar deze gretige onderzoekers leven in een heel andere wereld, een elektronische wereld. De horlogemakers van morgen spelen met Nintendo’s in plaats van Pontiacs. Spelcomputers die uit brandende belangstelling worden geopend, bieden een teleurstellende aanblik van printplaatjes. Inspirerende fijnmechanica is ver te zoeken in het leven van alledag. Dat moet anders. Ouders aller landen geeft uw kinderen een mechanisch horloge! Onthoud uw kinderen de geneugten van technische verwondering niet. Ik heb mijn zoon inmiddels een horloge gegeven waarin een langzaam tikkend en robuust Unitas- handopwinduurwerk ligt verscholen. Kijken wat er gebeurt. Het is een experiment. Een klein offer misschien wel, want ruwe vingers en delicate mechanica zijn geen gelukkige combinatie.

Omdat ik niet kan verlangen dat andere ouders ook offers brengen, doe ik ook nog een oproep aan de uurwerkfabrikanten van deze wereld: ETA, Sellita, Seiko, Miyota en anderen, deel op lagere scholen uurwerken uit om te betoveren en te inspireren.”

For a (poor) English translation of the article by Google, please click here.

This article was published as the introduction of the Winter 2013/2014 Edition of the physical edition of 00/24 WatchWorld Magaine. Get your personal copy via: www.0024.nl. Also available in English via: www.0024watchworld.com.



The Ace List: More Than A Book

12 09 2012

On May 11th, 2012 I already published a post about the launch of a new book we were working on at Ace Jewelers. I am proud to announce that we presented the physical book at the beginning of this month: “The Ace List – Volume I” with an unique ISBN number: 9789081922807.

This is the press release we sent out today:

Amsterdam, September 12th, 2012 – Amsterdam based Ace Jewelers Group has presented a completely new concept in customer information. It consists of an impressive book, The Ace List, plus a dedicated website, www.TheAceList.com. Together, both media represent a new standard in communication about watches and jewels. The coffee table book is offering a kaleidoscopic view on the world of watches, jewelry and luxury living; the website – among others – offers clients the possibility to create their own lists of favorites.

It’s not the first time Ace Jewelers Group introduces new ways of information and marketing. The company is a pioneer of cross-channel retailing and operates classic jewelry boutiques next to digital e-boutiques. Ace was the first jeweler being authorized by the best brands to sell products online. Ace combines an innovative spirit with a dedication to quality. For this reason the group co-operated with MotoMax Media (a pioneer of combining traditional printed media with a strong online presence) to create a stunning book and accompanying website. All content was created specifically for this project.

The Ace List (Volume 1) is a hard cover publication of 100 large size pages. It presents important watches and jewels in a selection of Top Five Lists, but adds playful articles about the five best vintage watches, Hollywood brands, milestones in watch history, places to long for, marriage proposals, honeymoon destinations, planes and more! This combination of product oriented and lifestyle based subjects turns The Ace List into a most inspiring read.

The Ace List (ISBN 9789081922807) is for sale for € 20,- (USD 25, GBP 15) via www.amazon.com, www.AceJewelers.com, www.bol.com, and www.0024.nl.



My first article for a watch magazine

17 06 2011

This spring a new high-end watch magazine, about luxury watches, has been launched in The Netherlands: The International Watch Tribune. I had the honor to select five of my favourite limited edition luxury wrist watches, that we actually present in our stores. And, write my personal opinion about them. The Amsterdam based photographer, Denis Koval (very talented), shot the limited edition watches and featured them in the setting of ‘the office’. The title of the shoot is: “The Firm: From 9:00 AM till 5:00 PM”

Omega Speedmaster Watch in "The Firm"

You can download the full article here:
“The Firm” by Alon Ben Joseph & Denis Koval (PDF)

Here is the plain text (in Dutch), but please do check the stunning pictures that match the text:

Vijf gelimiteerde klassiekers die onder andere hun oorsprong vinden op het circuit, het luchtruim en zelfs de ruimte zijn door Watch Tribune gevangen in papierenrasters. Maar zelfs de banaliteit van ‘geeltjes’ en het verstikkende ritme van kantooruren breekt de spirit niet van deze tijdloze horloges. Ace Juweliers’ directeur Alon Ben Joseph selecteerde de vijf limited editions en voorziet ze van persoonlijk commentaar.

Fotografie: Denis Koval
Assistent: Dimer van Santen
Tekst: Alon Ben Joseph
Met speciale dank aan: Ace Juweliers

 

Merk: Baume & Mercier
Model: Classima Executive XL Retrograde
Referentie: M0A08879
Aantal Limited Edition stuks wereldwijd: 1000 eenmalig

“Ondanks dat Baume & Mercier een van de oudste Zwitserse horlogehuis is, vind ik het knap hoe ze toch elke keer tijdloze en elegante horloges produceren die tevens zeer hedendaags zijn. De Classima Executive XL Retrograde is mijn favoriete limited edition in de huidige Baume & Mercier collectie. Dit is een stalen horloge met een 42 mm kast; elegant en mannelijk. De complicatie van een retrograde secondewijzer, gemaakt door Lajoux Perret (kaliber 3533), accentueert op een bescheiden manier dat Baume & Mercier een onvervalst horlogehuis is.”

 

Merk: Breitling
Model: Navitimer Caliber 01
Referentie: A2332212/B635
Aantal Limited Edition stuks wereldwijd: 2000 eenmalig

“Ondanks dat vele bekende horlogehuizen pilotenhorloges maken sinds de jaren 1930, staat Breitling tegenwoordig bekend als hét pilotenhorlogemerk. Icoon in de collectie is dan ook de Navitimer die sinds 1952 in productie is. Persoonlijk draag ik met veel plezier een limited edition Breitling Navitimer uit 1969 die in een oplage van 2000 stuks is gemaakt. Daarom heb ik voor deze fotoserie de Breitling Navitimer Caliber 01 gekozen met het innovatieve manufacture 01-uurwerk dat Breitling zelf heeft ontworpen en heeft gebouwd.”

 

Merk: IWC
Model: Big Pilot Perpetual Calendar Saint Exupéry
Referentie: IW502617
Aantal Limited Edition stuks wereldwijd: 500 eenmalig

“Samen met de Breitling Navitimer, is de Big Pilot van IWC een origineel historisch pilotenhorloge. Als eerbetoon aan luchtvaartpionier en schrijver Antoine de Saint Exupéry presenteert IWC een zeer opvallend gelimiteerd horloge. Deze variant op het Big Pilot-thema is het vliegeniershorloge bij uitstek door de toevoeging  van een zeer gecompliceerd uurwerk met eeuwigdurende kalender (manufacture IWC kaliber 51614). Het rosé gouden horloge met een dipe, Havana-bruine wijzerplaat is ondanks zijn royale kastdiameter van 46 mm, toch ook chique te noemen. En, voor de echte luchtvaartliefhebbers, zijn de twee P-38 Lightning jachtvliegtuigen op de wijzerplaat natuurlijk een sublieme finishing touch.”

 

Merk: Omega
Model: Speedmaster Apollo Soyuz
Referentie: 311.30.42.30.99.001
Aantal Limited Edition stuks wereldwijd: 1975 eenmalig

“Behalve pilotenhorloges zijn horloges die in de ruimtevaart gebruikt worden ook echte toys for boys en de meest legendarische is de Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch. Al decennia lang wordt er elk jaar een gelimiteerde editie uitgebracht die een speciaal moment uit de ruimtevaart herdenkt. De laatste in deze reeks is de Speedmaster Apollo Soyuz. Deze oerchronograaf is extra bijzonder, omdat er daadwerkelijk een stukje uit de ruimte in het horloge verwerkt is. De wijzerplaat van dit horloge is namelijk gemaakt van echt meteoriet en dus is geen wijzerplaat hetzelfde.”

 

Merk: TAG Heuer
Model: Heuer Silverstone Calibre 11
Referentie: CAM2110.FC6258
Aantal Limited Edition stuks wereldwijd: 1.860 eenmalig

“Tijdmeting is niet alleen belangrijk in de luchtvaart en ruimtevaart, maar ook in de racerij. Het merk dat in het analoge tijdperk furore maakte met stopwatches en chronografen was Heuer. Het sportieve horlogehuis werd in 1985 overgenomen door het in de Formule 1 actieve Techniques d‘Avant Garde wat de naam TAG Heuer opleverde. Veel oude Heuer-horloges zijn vernoemd naar legendarische circuits en de heruitgave van de vintage Heuer Silverstone Calibre 11, is heel bijzonder vanwege de vierkante kastvorm met de afgeronde hoeken. Daarbij bevat dit horloge een moderne interpretatie van het historische Heuer kaliber 11 met de opwindkroon aan de linkerkant.”