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    On The Prowl


October 11, 2016

Smartwatches vs. Mechanical: Are the old ways the best?

For those of you who have been hiding under a rock, September marked the global product release date for Apple, ranked as the world’s most valuable brand (Forbes 2016) and as part of their updated offering seeing the release of their Series 2 Apple Watch.

Sources indicate that smartwatch vendors shipped 3.5 million units in Q2, down from over 5 million the previous year. Interestingly, of these figures apparently Apple shipped 1.3 million smartwatches so clearly being the major force behind such sales. Most smartwatches price themselves around £600 mark, though are they really what they are cracked up to be? Mr. Woolfe researched into what the pros and cons are so you can sleep easy.

Mr. Woolfe’s 7 key points to consider
  1. Charging issues – consumers find charging their smartwatches difficult or even boring. Choosing an automatic self-winding or kinetic watch simply means a small amount of physical movement to get it ticking.
  1. Technology – as with any hardware or software, things can go wrong. No such issues with mechanical watches, however, the inner workings will be subject to a service around every five or so years
  1. Longevity – servicing means that a mechanical watch in theory will last for a very long time. The materials used   should stand the test of time, with vintage watches out there still functioning with all of their original parts. Lifecyles    for smartwatches are probably eight years max with the battery difficult to replace, so in essence the kit is pretty    much a disposable product.
  1. Cost & Materials – although on the exterior smartwatches can share a mix of metals (steel and precious), the insides are clearly digitally orientated. The collaboration with Apple and Hermes is interesting example of two powerhouse brands aiming for the best in luxury elements, although with obvious limitations. With mechanical timepieces, the sky   is the limit for those who can afford it, so intricacy and use of unique or rare materials is down to the watchmakers imagination.


  1. Versatility – with digital there are multiple capabilities with the techonology covering fitness data, NFC and contactless pay. Having said that, customised add-ons to the caseback of mechanical watches like Chronos or the BarclayPay loop in the leather strap of certain Mondaine watches, bridge such gaps.
  1. Customisation – mechanical watches nowadays can not only demonstrate their exclusivity through being limited or numbered pieces, but also have the ability to be fully individualised. Some great companies include Bamford, Titan Black and Pro Hunter, all unique in their style and quality. Digital does have the ability to accessorise or even change the dials in a much more convenient manner i.e. TAG Heur Connected, however, some other brands lack in HD pixels so therefore detract on the true beauty of the real thing.
  1. Investment – even a decent chronograph by a reputable Swiss brand will mean a mechanical timepiece will appreciate in its intrinsic value providing it is kept in good condition. The same cannot be guaranteed with a digital watch, unless  it has some sort of collectors appeal from its previous owner i.e. celebrity association.


Overall, if you are geared more towards a wear and tear sports or fitness focused watch, the smartwatch might be the option for you and even showing signs of targeting the “Luxe-wear” market for those who wish to spend on expensive materials. However, hands down, if you are looking for sophistication, pedigree and a DNA history of a true timepiece the mechanical watch clearly wins.



One thing to remember is that cost wise a luxury mechanical watch is not out of reach, as renting with Mr. Woolfe allows you to achieve that lifestyle without breaking the bank!

September 20, 2016

Boom and bust for luxury watch brands: Is watch hire the next big thing?

Britain’s vote to leave the EU resulted in an increase in sales for luxury watch and jewellery products for July and August due to the weak pound boosting tourist spending. Some watches can be acquired for 20-25% cheaper when purchased in the UK than buying the same item overseas. The Mr. Woolfe team certainly noticed a higher proportion of wealthy shoppers from the Far East in London’s watch boutiques this summer, some even buying multiple timepieces in one visit! Indicating now is a good time to be a collector in the current economic climate.

High sales in the UK due to the de-valued pound seems to be quite the reverse in once buoyant regions like Hong Kong, with weakening demand partly due to a Government crackdown on corruption and excess in China. Global geo-political developments, like Brexit, have clearly impacted the personal luxury products industry with the brands facing challenges in controlling their product offering across certain markets. For watch brands this will most certainly result in an adjustment in prices to reduce currency fluctuation advantages that allow customers to benefit by purchasing overseas. If industry rumours are to be believed, Rolex (a key benchmark player) plan to increase their prices by Q4 this year. This will put off UK buyers that may have had their sights on a high value item, only to have a further 10% added to their purchase.

rolex_submariner_hulk_london_pricetagRolex “Hulk” £6,050 RRP (Rolex.com), however, demand and waiting lists are commanding higher pre-owned prices.

Is luxury watch hire the next big thing?

A recent survey by Credit Suisse estimates that luxury watch sales have fallen by a mid-to-high single-digit percentage in the past two years, and they think those declines will continue falling into 2017 before they get better. Exports to the UK of Swiss watches fell by 26% for June. Asia markets indicated that inventory levels with wholesalers were and still are higher than previously thought—with the approximate value around CHF 2.2 billion. Similar inventory overbuild reports on a global level ring true with retailers around the world reporting high stock levels and sales slowing down for the likes of Richemont and Hermes International according to The Guardian a couple of weeks ago.

According to several sources tough times are ahead for Swiss watchmakers with global demand for luxury timepieces falling for several reasons. It appears that in the current climate consumers feel that they cannot justify a grand purchase, or perhaps find other new trends appealing (e.g. the rise in the popularity of smart-watches) or simply deciding not to buy a watch at all. Obviously this will continue to effect luxury brands, however, a solution certainly lies with a bespoke watch rental service that can open up multiple opportunities to both high-end brands and watch enthusiasts.

Mr. Woolfe allows those wanting to acquire that must have timepiece without having to worry about hurting their bank balance. With the importance of getting the most pleasure per pound, why not chose the luxury hire option and embrace the lifestyle you really want. Register with Mr. Woolfe for further updates.

Luxury on loan, the sensible option and win-win for all!