Thomas Baillod, now the “tourbillon troublemaker”, is throwing a spanner in the works! His entirely Swiss Made tourbillon for less than CHF 4’000.00 brings complicated watchmaking to the masses. And as its name suggests, The Veblen Dilemma challenges the foundations of “perceived value”.
220 years after the birth of the Tourbillon, how is this possible? While Abraham-Louis Breguet is turning in his grave, the skeptics, of whom I was one until recently, have no words. They are looking for the loophole or the trick. Except that…
Industrial excellence as a key factor
A few months ago, during my rounds in the Swiss excellence watchmaking industry, I came across a business angel who is rather wise and above all reputed for the high level of quality of his historical and family business. He confessed to me that, in addition to his regular business, he had provided financial support for the project of an independent watchmaker who had just developed, including the manufacturing process, a particularly affordable tourbillon caliber.
Suddenly, Thomas Baillod’s open communication, namely the full citation on his official website of all the parties involved in the design and the production of this Tourbillon chapter 4, allowed me to make the match. It was indeed Olivier Mory, from OM-Mechanics, co-founder of BCP Tourbillon SA (Cortaillod), a start-up dedicated to the manufacture of this complication.
Margins deconstructed, commissions redirected
Finally, the real issue of this “broken price” is explained by the famous equations that the ebullient and media-savvy agitator never stops preaching, and recently even gave himself a lecture on the very prestigious chair of the SSC, the venerable Swiss Chronometry Society.
Thus, the BA111OD system challenges the established paradigms and physical networks that so many brands have built over the past decades. I had clearly denounced its concepts, since their feasibility had been proven in chapters 1 and 2, based on a presentation of Chinese watches. Shockingly, Thomas Baillod, professionally based in Neuchâtel, had crossed the red line.
“Wesh, the bad boy returns to Swiss Made territory”
So I had titled a post on Linkedin, when Thomas Baillod had announced the suisssitude of his chapter 3. I realized that the people from the upper part of the canton of Neuchâtel can sometimes be irritating with an absence of political language and a straightforwardness that can easily be mistaken for a ” teacher’s ” tone. So I went to the effort of racking my brains. I tried to understand his system. A kind of Tupperware-like proximity marketing which, in the 4.0 era, has acquired a new word (such as Afluendor, a contraction of ambassador, influencer and vendor), as well as a tremendous warfare machine: an app that can unite thousands of members forming a community.
Everything is based on the factor times 6, which can sometimes go up to times 30 for some system exaggerators. This factor means that a Swiss watch with a manufacturing cost of CHF 1000.00 ex-factory, can be found on the retail market at least at CHF 6’000.00. OHowever, if you take a closer look at the breakdowns, by allocating the current margins, you can see that if the brands want to earn more after putting pressure on their historical suppliers, in order to reduce their already very good prices even more, or after outsourcing part of their operations to Asia without giving up the Swiss Made standards, they end up opening their own boutiques or, as a guilty temptation, by selling their own products directly. And the worst is when theses companies unabashedly violate their distribution contracts, throwing a few low blows to the calves of loyal retailers by selling directly at lower prices or by aggressive destocking operations.
Selling, the ultimate goal
By turning its buyers into sellers, the BA111OD system is rerouting commission to its customer. This is the famous marketing fantasy of the consumer-actor, i.e. a consumer who pays himself for your sales efforts. In other words, if Thomas Baillod remains in control of the final sale, he can pay back to his member-clients the same marketing costs he did not have to pay. From time to time, he also adds some “club” privileges. These members not only buy a timepiece, but also the right to sell some of them. The addition of these sales commissions allows the buyer to either enjoy himself without paying anything, or to order a second one, and so on..
At first view, the major losers are the retailers. It seems that this new orchestration of the distribution of margins leaves them nothing? They, who, to obtain the final sale, have to rent or buy square meters, storage spaces and stalls, hire and train specialized salespeople, as well as pre-purchase pieces with hard cash. In response to this objection, Thomas Baillod looks back on the years he spent traveling the world’s markets for brands with strong distribution networks. He remembers, and since his time these phenomena have become even worse, these faithful actors of the final distribution, Country Distributors and above all Retailers, who have become no longer points of sale, but only points of service. And often with the connivance of the brands themselves. his means that, after a customer has tried on a watch three times, he turns his back to the store and rushes off to make his purchase on Internet.
Concept stores are the future
Some retailers have realised this. They have become galleries, event spaces, specialized repair places or vintage sales. In short, just like cinemas which had to re-invent themselves in reaction to the Netflix wave and sometimes gaining in prestige and constant attendance. Sometimes, and the loop is completed, by presenting in ” presence ” productions coming entirely from this paying platform of streaming and downloading. Thomas Baillod guarantees them a remuneration for the service provided, while controlling the sale, but this time with their active support. The experience has a price, as demonstrated by his very first retailer in Morges, selected according to his postal number “1110”, that is to say the 11.10 of BA111OD. He no longer needs stock. The phygital era has arrived, another highlight of Baillod’s wording..
Watch the concept that became a watch brand
Browse the real-photos album signed by the talented Gouacheuse Estelle Lagarde
List of suppliers ‘on board’ for The Veblen Dilemma Tourbillon (BA111OD Chapter 4)
BCP Tourbillons, Olivier Mory
OM-Mechanics, Olivier Mory
derdiedas.design, Claudio Orlando
Madeness Solutions Lab SA, Fabien Brisebard
Develop Your Watch Sàrl, Miguel Bolea
DM surfaces SA, Raynald Favre
Iseotec SA, Emeric Chopard
Opinion: “Should we defend the entry-level Swiss Made?”
When Nicolas Hayek showed up with his Swatch, who could have predicted that mechanical watchmaking would once again enjoy its moments of glory? By solving the unforgiving equation of a Swiss workforce more expensive than anywhere else in the world in an industrial way, thanks to a molded case, he allowed the entry-level watch and its volumes to put the global spotlight back on Swiss watchmaking. n 2021, the threat of a Swiss Made that would only focus on the higher segments could well mean the death of the entire industrial framework on which our industry is based and its establishment in our Helvetian homeland. In this respect, the solutions advocated by the BA111OD concept have the advantage, while underlining the incredible elasticity of a local industrial fabric (in accordance with the ethics of short circuits), of providing a reflection, the beginning of an answer. Above all, they provide a new source of income for the exhausted players in traditional distribution, which is being undermined by the irreversible habits of consumers and by the guilty complicity of brands obsessed with the “smile of their shareholders”.