How Hemel Watches is Changing the Watch Industry and Bringing Historical Timepieces to Average Consumers
Luxury brands in the watch industry may have reached record high revenues in 2021, but those brands have also succeeded in recasting the watch industry as elitist. The high-end market appears to have moved towards exclusivity, further shrinking the industry and limiting the average consumer's access to classic timepieces. Many have also pointed out that luxury brands are not only exclusive but have also failed to be innovative in technology and design.
The public is still interested in classic watch aesthetics and luxury watch features. This is why Hemel has been winning since its inception in 2016. This phenomenon was recently proven by the public's overwhelming response to the affordable "MoonSwatch" watches that paid homage to the classic Omega Speedmaster.
Another movement that has placed more watches on the public's wrists is the popularity and advancement of smartwatches. However, Hemel Watches founder and watch collector Marvin Menke points out that smartwatches have their limitations. He further shares, "There's planned obsolescence in our digital tools. No matter how much you spend on wearable technology, it's outdated in a few years and meant to be thrown away. A mechanical watch is timeless. It can be both a thing of aesthetic beauty and expression while being an heirloom. It's not just a disposable screen on your wrist."
Menke saw an opportunity to bridge the gap by combining his passion for historical wristwatches and his expertise in fashion, creating a line of classic timepieces that are more reliable, accurate, and fitting for this modern age.
As a watch collector, he has a deep understanding of the historical influences that gave birth to the designs and features the industry knows today. "The very fact that watches migrated from our pockets to our wrists was based on the needs of World War I soldiers to have their hands free," says Menke. "Practical needs drove historic innovation leading to water resistant cases, shatter-resistant glass, luminescent markers, and mechanical advancements such as chronographs and rotating bezels."
Menke believes that the solution to inaccessibility isn't to abandon this history but to reinvent classic timepieces for a more modern audience using upscale materials like sapphire, ceramic, surgical grade steel, and modern high accuracy movements while keeping price points approachable. This is precisely what he has done with Hemel Watches, branding his pieces as a practical luxury line for consumers who are ready to move on from the fashion watch category but aren't prepared to pay four figures for a timepiece.
As Menke has a strong appreciation for the military's role in horological innovation, he has designed Hemel Watches to pay homage to the armed forces' contribution by making products like the pilot watch collection called the HF Series Air Support. Furthermore, the brand recently became an official licensee of the United States Air Force, allowing Hemel Watches to collaborate closely with the air service branch of the US Armed Forces on wristwatch development.
Menke believes that microbrands like Hemel Watches are the philosophical backbone of the watch industry. These businesses are usually started by founders who are every bit the watch enthusiast that they seek to sell to. They are the truest of enthusiasts who go through great effort and risk to produce the watches that they think should exist, typically with the philosophy of a collector trying to fill holes that they see in the market, no matter how small or unimportant the greater watch establishment considers them.
His extensive network has connected him to hundreds of entrepreneurs working diligently, typically using their own resources, so they can put into existence what they envision for the wristwatch market. This realization of the importance of microbrands and all the efforts of small business owners like himself pushed him to create a fast-growing community on Facebook--The League of Microbrands, where entrepreneurs from all over the world can reach out to each other and their target market. To date, the community has over 200 microbrands connecting with more than 25,000 wristwatch enthusiasts.
"I think that when one of us succeeds, all of us succeed. The more attention we get for this micro-market, the better off we all are and the better off the industry will be," says Menke.
Enthusiasts of these timeless pieces can have a look at Hemel Watches' impressive work at www.hemelwatches.com.