Kickstarter Watch Report

The first report on the Top 100 successfully funded watch project on Kickstarter. Ever.

Dear friend, if you are about to disrupt the watch industry by more personalized, more innovative and more creative timepieces that cut the luxury margin, Kickstarter is probably the best place to start your business. I dig into Kickstarter’s most funded watch projects all around the world.

I have been looking for answers to the most popular questions by watch enthusiasts, no matter what kind of watches they are enthusiastic about. My scope includes Dumb-, Smart- and Hybrid watches, but does not include clocks.

Dumb watch means — without any negative implications — the traditional timepieces that are used only for time measurement, regardless its complications or display type (eg. lcd or nixie tubes).

Smart watch means all the watches with only digital displays and chips inside that features various functions beyond timekeeping.

Hybrid watches means all the watches with physical dial and hands but able to collect and/or display data.

This bunch of projects are from the full lifetime of Kickstarter (2009–2017) and do not include any sales or performance outside of Kickstarter. All pledges are converted into US dollars. Only the successfully funded projects were analysed.

Since, I didn’t find any analytic tools for Kickstarter campaigns, I reviewed all the projects and handpicked the relevant data. The file was closed at April 3, 2017.

How does Kickstarter perform on the watch market?

For first sight, very well. The Top 100 projects pledged $75,502,760 in total which is a pretty huge number.

It took around 7 years and is broken up for 100 projects, though.

Moreover, the majority of the pledges are collected by 3 projects related to one company, called Pebble.

Pebble is outstanding

Pebble built their business model on Kickstarter and used this sales channel very effectively. They had three projects, and in total they pledged an astonishing $43,385,674. Actually, Pebble Time is the 2nd most funded project on Kickstarter.

They performed even better in regards of pre-ordered units.

This fact would distort the insights, if only the total pledges and pre-ordered units would be counted. Don’t be fooled by the domination of smartwatches. It’s not quite the case.

Do watch projects on Kickstarter threat traditional watch industry?

Well, not really. However, there is no detailed report of worldwide watch sales, but this comparison helps to measure the weights.

Omega alone, as part of the Swatch Group, had 30 times more revenue in 2012 only than all Kickstarter project in 7 years.

The difference is much smaller in units, but it is still a different ballpark.

Kickstarter is not the place where premium brands grow. And not the place of luxury margins.

Shares by watch type

The domination of dumb watches is devastating.

It might be because of the greater technical challenge of building a smartwatch, but I am not really convinced. According to my theory, smartwatches are simply not the next gadget trend, but just an accessory of a digital ecosystem. Without this ecosystem they cannot work well, but all these ecosystems relate to big players like Apple or Google. Think twice if you want to compete with them.

The performance of smartwatches proves me. And it’s even worse if Pebble’s big hits are excluded — the average pledge per unit decreases to $186 then.

The demand for hybrid watches is also weak. They have the tiniest shares with the poorest performance. It seems people do not love mixed functions.

Dreaming about a hybrid watch? There is still a way for pioneering but don’t follow the way of others.

Share by movements

“What’s inside?” is often the first question regarding a dumb watch. Makes sense to take a look here as well.

The victory of quartz movements is not surprising. Cheap, versatile, reliable, no effort by the user is needed — which is a huge demand. Automatic movements provide the same effortless usage but in a more expensive way. Their 46% share is pretty impressive and reassuring.

Manual winding movements are the minority but perform pretty well.

If you find a manual wound watch on Kickstarter, it probably comes from the UK.

Top 10 Countries

I thought this chart was rather interesting than useful, however it clearly showed how Swiss Made brands were strong enough to work well on such a disruptive selling tool like Kickstarter.

Obviously, most projects came from North America, dominated by the states of California and New York. Switzerland is well below them but its performance is more than two times greater than the US.

One-trick ponies?

The 100 most funded watch projects came from 74 different teams. While the most projects are first creations, there is an interesting life-path.

Pebble proved that Kickstarter may be a residence place of sales and many teams followed this way. However the pioneer was over the top when the 3rd campaign ended.

While the total fund of the third campaign fell back by nearly the same value as that of the first one, the trust in the brand raised boldly — that’s what the pledge performance indicates.

The fund path of the rest of the teams is a bit different.

While there is a plateau between the second and the third campaign, the falling is predictable at the fourth campaign. On average, the trust of the brand topped at the third campaign.

If Pebble had one more campaign, it would probably be the least funded.

I think, this phenomenon is caused by the disappearing magic of being an early bird. Who thinks him/herself as an early bird after the 3rd campaign in order? It’s just not that exciting.

You will want to establish your other sales channels and marketing tools along with the 3rd Kickstarter campaign, at latest.

Dumb watches

Average early-bird price starts from $289

The most funded

Filippo Loreti by Danielus & Matas, Italy
$5,130,104 (€4,809,548) pledged


Average early-bird price starts from $133

The most funded

Pebble Time by Pebble Technologies, USA
$20,338,986 pledged

Hybrid watches

Average early-bird price starts from $184

The most funded

cookoo™ by Peter Hauser, USA
$305,393 pledged

Automatic watches

Average early-bird price starts from $432

The most funded

Rebel by LIV, USA
$1,703,914 pledged

Manual winding watches

Average early-bird price starts from $384

The most funded

Lomond Chronoscope by Marloe Watch Co., UK
$240,373 (£192,318) pledged

Quartz watches

Average early-bird price starts from $165

The most funded

Filippo Loreti by Danielus & Matas, Italy
$988,742 (€926,960) pledged

This report is under CC license but there is no warranty if any mistake or misinformation taken.

Gábor Balogh

Written by

Thinker, designer, honorer of traditions, seeker of inventions, lover of details.

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