Written By: Catherine Wolinski
Stuhrling Original, a well-known watch maker, has been getting some mixed reviews from customers regarding the authenticity and worth of its products. While many are appreciative of the much more modest pricing of Stuhrling watches, others resent the brand for selling mock luxury timepieces at lower prices.
Looking at the Stuhrling Facebook page, one would deduce that the young watch manufacturer (the company was only established in 1999) is experiencing great success on the market. The page displays comments from customers, fan photos, and a generally very positive reaction to Stuhrling products. However, other reactions around the web are anything but.
A post from the watch forum watchlords, titled “I Hate Stuhrling Orginial,” reads:
“I can’t stand the sight of that intellectual property thief Larry Magen…Take almost any Stuhrling and you will find a high end brand that the design has been lifted from.”
The author of the statement refers to Lawrence “Larry” Magen, Stuhrling’s president of North American Operations. While it is stated in Magen’s company bio that he has a history of “’wholesale to the public’ name brand discount operations”, he is described as a successful businessman with a specialty in creating top-quality, high-end merchandise for buyers of fine jewelry. Larry is quoted in the site biography:
“This position gives me the opportunity to bring my talents, my abilities, and my passion for watches to the table…The purchase of a beautifully crafted timepiece is indeed a magical experience for the client filled with excitement, anticipation and pleasure. And I have found that I get just as much of a rush providing a fine piece of jewelry or timepiece as my client does in receiving it.”
The watches are largely sold through direct response marketing, better known as home shopping networks. Many Stuhrling owners view Magen’s television program on ShopNBC, a shopping network that offers top brands at more reasonable values. Viewers can purchase the product online as they view the program on their television, and the system appears to be well received:
“Great looking watches on ShopNBC on the Stuhrling show,” one Facebook fan writes.
“Larry has hit a home run with the new Winchester Revolution,” says another. I just love it. I got the Goldtone. And my gosh, two mainsprings, wow.”
However, no opinion is ever unanimous, and some consumers continue to express bitterness toward Stuhrling name, due to its questionable integrity. Another comment from watchlord reads:
“No, I don’t’ want a Tourbillon for $800 if it means stealing Cartier’s Balon Bleu Tourbillon design. Fake ‘originial’ designs for fake people, or just plain uninformed [people].”
The range of response received by Stuhrling Original is certainly an interesting and unusual characteristic of a luxury watch maker, but does not seem to be significantly harming sales.