If you've ever asked "Is Filippo Loreti a good brand?" to any watch enthusiast, their answer was probably utterly negative.
In all my years of watch collecting, I've never seen a watch brand receive as much hate as Filippo Loreti does. As a fair judge, I like to give every brand a chance and do my own research to see if all the hate is warranted.
In this article, I will summarize why Filippo Loreti has such a bad reputation in the watch community. Also, I will try to see the bright side of the brand and explain how they got so many sales.
Why does Filippo Loreti have a bad reputation?
There are many reasons why Filippo Loreti accumulated a bad rep over the last few years. According to my research, here's why they aren't well-respected:
1- Questionable Marketing
As a watch enthusiast, you've probably seen a couple of Filippo Loreti ads on your Facebook or Instagram feed. Usually, they look a little bit like this:
This marketing technique is Filippo Loreti's first mistake. It's never good when your whole marketing strategy is based on ragging on luxury brands. With ads like the one above, Filippo Loreti implies that their watches are equally as good as $1,000+ luxury watches, which is a bold lie.
In the watch world, highly-priced watches are usually differentiated by small details such as the finish of the indices, the crispness of the bezel, etc.. This is where Filippo Loreti lacks and cannot compete with $1,000+ watches.
In the ad above, Filippo Loreti claims that other brands are marked up at almost 800%. Conversely, they say that their watches are up to 70% cheaper by cutting out the middle man.
The problem here is that FL watches are also heavily marked up. For instance, the Okeanos above sells for around $150. In contrast, a similar Aliexpress quartz watch can be bought for $20-$80. This shows that the company marks up their watches about 5-7x like any other watch brand.
This is perfectly normal considering all the R&D, marketing, humans resources (and more), costs that the business incurs to sell these watches. For this reason, Filippo Loreti should stop putting other brands down for their mark up, and stop creating the illusion that they're equal to $1,000+ watches.
2- Fake Italian Heritage
With a name like Filippo Loreti, a strong Italian accent in every commercial, and catchphrases like "timeless Italian style", it's evident that FL wants to be perceived as an Italian brand with a deep history.
The Jakutis brothers, founders of the Filippo Loreti company. (source)
However, the brand was created in 2015 by two Lithuanian brothers, and their watches are produced in Asia. If you read their website's "Our story" page, you quickly realize that the Italian branding is nothing but a marketing scheme, instead of a true piece of their history.
3- They're Not Humble Enough
It's okay to promote your products in the best way possible, but you shouldn't make false claims to try and better your image. For instance, Filippo Loreti often claim that their watches "disrupt the market" or that they might be "the greatest deal in watch history".
The truth is, Filippo Loreti does make some decent timepieces (albeit overpriced), but they're nothing out-of-the-ordinary, and definitely not on par with luxury watches.
By setting the bar so high, potential customers will have extremely high expectations when buying the watch. For this reason, they will most likely scrutinize every single detail, and make a big case about slight misalignments or rough edges (as you'd do with a $1,000+ watch).
If Filippo Loreti were simply upfront by saying that their watches are decent, but without comparing themselves to high-end luxury brands, potential customers wouldn't be as critical.
4- Poor Quality Control
When they started in 2015, Filippo Loreti took Kickstarter orders before producing the first piece. Their excellent marketing efforts resulted in a much higher interest than they planned for. Indeed, they collected almost €1,000,000 from their first campaign, much more than the €25,000 initial goal.
While this might seem like a good thing, it's a big problem for a company with no prior watchmaking experience to produce such a large amount of watches in a short time. This resulted in a lot of quality control issues for their first delivered watches, which could've been prevented if the company grew at a slower rate.
By browsing Filippo Loreti's first Kickstarter campaign, you will see tons of reviews like the ones above. Missing parts, loose hands & indices, non-working movements, etc.
By now, Filippo Loreti has made tens of millions of dollars in sales, which gave them the experience and funds to build the QC team they needed. However, the poor quality control reputation they developed in 2016-2017 will probably never leave them.
5- Poor Customer Service
Subpar quality control can be tolerable if your company has great customer service that takes care of problems right away. This means refunding money when necessary or repairing/sending a new watch in a quick manner if the customer wants to.
However, Filippo Loreti's Kickstarter comment section is plagued by unsatisfied customers that seem to get no help from the company.
What's Good About Filippo Loreti?
Obviously, not everything is bad about the Filippo Loreti brand, or they wouldn't have $10M+ in Kickstarter sales.
Below, you will find the main reasons why Filippo Loreti fans like the brand.
1- Unique Styling
The main reason why Filippo Loreti sell so many watches is their ability to produce distinctive pieces. For instance, tons of microbrands or cheaper Chinese brands simply recreate the styling of Rolex watches (especially the Submariner) since they know it will sell.
On the other hand, Filippo Loreti are usually pretty creative with the design of their watches. While they aren't reinventing the wheel, their timepieces won't make you look like a wannabe that wants a Rolex but can't afford it.
As you can see above, the company sells tons of different timepieces with unique styling. Indeed, their collection includes casual, diver's, dressy, chronograph watches, and pretty much everything else you can think of.
2- Trustworthy Movements
Another negative comment about Filippo Loreti is that they use low-quality components for their watches. However, this can't be said for the movement.
For most of the lineup (including quartz and mechanical watches), Filippo Loreti uses Miyota movements. If you're not familiar, this is a well-respected Japanese brand with a long history of making simple & reliable movements.
These movements aren't complex by any means, but you can be assured that they will last a long time without a problem.
If Filippo Loreti were really all about cost-cutting, they would instead use no-name Chinese movements that are cheaper and less reliable than Miyota.
3- High-Quality Bracelets
Filippo Loreti haters will usually say that similar watches can be bought for way less money. However, they don't take every aspect of the watch into consideration.
If you've bought sub-$200 watches before, you certainly know that the weakest link is usually the bracelet. Even great manufacturers like Seiko and Citizen will cheap out on the bracelet (hollow end-links, thin stamped clasps, etc.).
However, Filippo Loreti watches have pretty good bracelets, even for cheaper models. For instance, the ≈$150 Okeanos comes with a fully-solid 316l steel bracelet (yes, even solid end-links). Also, the clasp is machined, so it's very thick and durable.
It's also good to note that they will often choose unique bracelet styles (ex: H-links instead of the usual Oyster or Jubilee styling).
4- Beautiful Case Backs
On most affordable watches the case back is usually pretty boring. Either you get a plain stainless steel back with the company's name engraved, or you get an exhibition case back displaying a boring entry-level movement.
With Filippo Loreti, pretty much any watch you buy will have a gorgeous case back with great craftsmanship.
For example, the Okeanos comes with an engraving of the Greek god Oceanus on its case back. As you can see above, it looks great and distinctive.
Not only does it look good, but it also feels very high in quality when you run your finger across.
A couple of other examples are the race car on the Ascari's case back, the Basilica di San Marco for the Venice, and many more.
5- It's a Great First Watch
People often complain that Filippo Loreti owners are usually "watch newbies" with no horology knowledge. This is partly true since the brand's strong social media presence caters to the average Joe rather than watch aficionados.
While some people might view this as a negative point, I see it as a positive. Every new watch enthusiast is a plus for the community, no matter how they get into the game.
Although Filippo Loreti watches are not refined and definitely subpar compared to well-established brands like Seiko or Bulova, they are a stepping stone to many collectors. After getting their first Filippo Loreti, these new enthusiasts might dig into the subject and build their way up to more "respectable pieces".
6- Quality's Getting Better
Most complaints about faulty watches stem from the first few Kickstarter runs of Filippo Loreti. This means that most bad reviews were posted in 2016-2017-2018. By now, the company's developed a better QC process, and they work with better subcontractors thanks to their high-volume.
This means that the quality of a 2021 Filippo Loreti is much better than a 2016 Filippo Loreti. As I mentioned earlier, the first bad reviews tainted the brand's reputation for what seems like forever.
I hope I came off pretty neutral in this article, as I'm not trying to affect your decision in any shape or form. My goal is only to give you all the information required to build your own opinion of the Filippo Loreti brand.
The key takeaway from today's read is that you should wear the hell out of any watch, as long as YOU enjoy it. Let the nay-sayers talk as much as they want, and keep wearing what you like, no matter the brand!