Laco is a German watch brand, well known for being the makers of Flieger watches. However, many are unsure about German watches as they seem less known than Swiss ones. So, is Laco a luxury watch brand?
Laco is not a luxury watch brand but more of a middle-tier brand. However, some of the higher-priced models can be considered entry-level luxury watches. Laco watches are German-made, with high manufacturing standards.
This article will discuss in further detail Laco watches and why we think it is middle-tier. We will also explore further its movements, production, and price range.
How Luxurious Are Laco Watches?
Luxury watchmakers tend to separate themselves from regular watchmakers when you start to look deeper into these areas:
- In-House Movements and Technology
- Brand Image
We will now look into each area in detail and see how Laco fares.
Compared to regular watchmakers, the materials used to make watch parts by luxury watchmakers are typically more expensive and premium.
Regular watchmakers may use 316L stainless steel, genuine leather, or resin/plastic materials. Gold alloy, titanium, top-grain alligator leather, and diamonds are among the materials used by luxury watchmakers.
Laco watches are made with primarily regular materials. Although with higher-end models, you start to see materials such as bronze, top-grade leather, and sapphire crystals.
Customers can also choose to customize the materials, such as whether to include engraving or anti-reflective coating on the watch crystals.
Many luxury watchmakers push for a higher degree of hand assembly of their watches. There is also a focus on producing watches in-house.
Despite producing less overall, this practice helps to ensure higher quality for the watches. This explains why luxury watches are usually much more expensive.
Regular and low-cost watchmakers use automation to help mass manufacture their watches. Some of these brands also outsource manufacturing to reduce operating and investment costs. They can keep their prices low while remaining competitive.
Laco does not explicitly imply that they produce their watches entirely in-house, although they indirectly give the impression on their website.
Suppose Laco is careful in making such a declaration since they might have watch parts from third-party manufacturers.
Laco watches are not Swiss but German-made. Unlike Swiss Law, which has a specific description of Swiss Made watches, Germany does not seem to be clear cut. It seems that a product can be labeled as ‘Made in Germany’ when:
- it is mainly produced in Germany, and
- Part of the value properties of the product is derived from German production.
This could mean Laco watches are at least ‘mainly produced’ in Germany. This sets it apart from companies such as Festina or Invicta, who like to play up the Swiss heritage, but manufactures their watches in Asia.
In-House Movements and Technology
Luxury watchmakers typically develop their own movements and accompanying technology to better control and improve the performance and accuracy of their watches.
Instead, regular and low-cost watchmakers purchase movements from third-party companies and outsource movement development. If you open a Stührling, for example, you might find Miyota movements, which are made in Japan.
Well-known Swiss third-party movement manufacturers include ETA, Ronda, Sellita, and STP. Miyota and Seiko are two of Japan’s major movement manufacturers.
On the surface, Laco seems to be makers of their own movements, with proprietary names such as the Laco 21 or Laco 31.
But when investigated deeper, these movements are not designed and built from the ground up. Still, they have basically modified movements from Miyota and Sellita.
Lower priced models tend to be using Miyota-based movements, while higher priced models use Sellita-based movements.
It is essential to mention that this does not blemish Laco as a watchmaker. It is common for middle-tier brands to modify movements from third-party makers for their own use – for example, Hamilton, Tissot, and Certina.
Luxury watchmakers frequently create watches that become the “gold standard” or “de facto” in their respective categories.
The Rolex Submariner and Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean, for example, are regarded as the “gold standard” for dive watches. These models serve as guides for the creation of numerous new models.
Luxury watchmakers can influence how things are done. When Rolex improves the design of their Datejust or Oyster watches, many other watchmakers follow suit.
Laco historically is one of the five original manufacturers of the Flieger pilot watches, with Stowa, IWC, A.Lange & Söhne, and Wempe being the other four. Therefore you can claim that Laco has a signature design in its Flieger watches.
Their other watches, however, do not seem to stand out. Their pilot watches do not stray too far from the traditional Flieger-style design. Their classic watches carry a Bauhaus-style design similar to Nomos.
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Homages are watches that have a similar appearance but have their own brand. They are legal, and homages usually bear the maker’s mark and differ slightly from the original. As the price of the original watch rises, imitations emerge.
Many ordinary/affordable watchmakers create homages to luxury watch models. This is because these watches are usually expensive and have beautiful designs.
As a result, homage watchmakers enter the market and create watches that resemble but are not exact replicas.
For example, the Steinhart Ocean GMT Mark 1 is an excellent homage to the Rolex Explorer Steve McQueen’.
Being one of the original makers of Flieger watches, Laco can claim that any Flieger type designs as homages to their watches. As for the rest of their models, no popular homages are known.
Laco’s lack of unique design language, and the still affordable price, made it less likely to be made into homages.
For luxury watch brands, fake, counterfeit, or clone watches are a common problem. This is unavoidable due to the high cost of the watches. They are well-liked and in high demand, but many customers cannot afford them.
This is a lucrative market for counterfeit watchmakers. Fake and clone watches can range from low-quality reproductions to “super-clones” that look almost identical to the real thing.
To tell a fake watch from a genuine one, you need a qualified watchmaker and a way to check the serial number.
There are probably counterfeit Laco watches, but not as many as imitation Omega or Rolex watches. This is because Laco is not as well known as Rolex watches.
Furthermore, the prices aren’t so high that many people give up on trying to buy the genuine timepiece. Like Tissot or Hamilton, Laco is a middle-tier brand that many people can still save for and purchase.
Luxury watch brands invest money and time to demonstrate that they are one-of-a-kind, sophisticated, and challenging to obtain. They usually associate their brands with similar events, people, or media outlets.
High-end watch brands such as Rolex, Omega, IWC, and Richard Mille, for example, sponsor sports such as tennis, golf, and Formula One. These watches are also sponsored by several celebrities.
Advertisements for luxury watch companies can also be found in The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, and Entrepreneur Magazine. These media outlets project power, status, and wealth, making them appealing to watch companies.
Laco does not seem to be very active in marketing its watches. Its website does not mention that it is a sponsor of events or prominent celebrities.
This should not be an issue since Laco does not have to maintain an image of luxury and prestige, such as Rolex. Therefore Laco does not need to invest too much into marketing but instead focuses on producing great watches that market themselves.
Luxury watchmakers typically charge a high price for their watches, with the majority of them starting in the four figures. High prices benefit luxury watchmakers in many ways.
For starters, the high-profit margin can be reinvested in marketing and increasing the watch brand’s luxury, success, and prestige. Second, the watch’s high price makes it difficult for most people to purchase, adding to the perception that it is a luxury item.
Laco’s standing as a middle-tier brand is evident in its pricing. The watches start around $300, with expensive models reaching $3,000. The prices are similar to middle-tier brands such as Tissot and Hamilton.