Short-term thinking: the paradox facing the “masters of time”


February 2024

Short-term thinking: the paradox facing the “masters of time”

The image of a watch brand is built over decades, not quarters – a fact made even more apparent with the rise of the secondary market, which brings a brand’s past image and products back into the spotlight, sometimes from 50 years ago or more. This is especially true in watchmaking, a field more reliant than most on long-term strategy and credibility among collectors and professionals. Unfortunately, the temptation to give in to short-term thinking prevents the industry from reaching its full potential.


n our first issue of the year on the “Mysteries of Time” (released on 4 March), we take a closer look at how watchmakers manage time in a strategic sense. And we can’t help noticing that things have speeded up significantly, which often leads to a rather paradoxical short-term approach, far removed from the long-term view the “masters of time” so frequently claim to live by.

Here at Europa Star, with almost a hundred years of hindsight and several generations of publishers to our credit, we have personally witnessed our own version of this radical evolution, and it clearly mirrors what’s happening right across the watchmaking value chain. In the past, we were able to establish multi-year strategic partnerships with a given brand, on the basis of a carefully thought-out strategies. Today, however, we’re faced with timetables that are valid for no more than a quarter, sometimes even a month, and are subject to change at short notice. It’s a completely different world.

As we start the new year amid fears of slower growth following the post-pandemic boom, the majority of the industry appears to be paralysed, choosing to slam on the brakes rather than maintaining confidence in their long-term strategies.

This behaviour is a natural result of the general acceleration of our lives and societies, pressure from investors (in the case of public companies), the impact of immediacy and overexposure to social networks on our day-to-day behaviours and attitudes, and the application of practices from the world of mass consumption to the watch industry.

When taken to extremes, these developments are detrimental to the health and prosperity of watchmaking, inhibiting strategic stability and preventing the industry from realising its full potential. It’s no coincidence that our long-term partnerships are primarily with the most successful watchmakers, those that are not constantly changing course. These companies have become institutions, and as such they are able to resist the paralysis induced by short-term thinking.

However, the image of a watch brand is built over decades, not quarters – particularly with the rise of the secondary market, which sheds light on a brand’s production and image from fifty years ago or more. In this, watchmaking is unique. More than most industries, it relies on long-term strategy and established credibility among collectors and professionals.

The strategic reversals we’re observing in our own circles are concerning, given the way the industry currently operates. This damaging short-term mindset, which is so contrary to everything watchmaking stands for, is inhibiting the industry’s development.

Despite the pressures, we have made the strategic decision not to succumb to short-term thinking. Instead, we will continue to develop our long-term editorial coverage, independent of any external agenda. We firmly believe this is the key to prevailing across decades and generations, and it gives us the opportunity to develop our own unique identity and voice. Through this approach, we hope to set an example. Although it’s important to move with the times, it’s clear that short-term thinking is a waste of everyone’s time. So let’s learn to avoid it!

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