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Are chess clocks overpriced?

  • #1
    These days you can make a digital watch for under $5. Why are most chess clocks over $20? They aren't super high quality or anything...
  • #2

    My guess is...........you do not make chess clocks in quantities like you do watches.  It is the high quantity that lowers the price.  

  • #3

    Depends on what you mean by "over priced"  If you dont play chess, then yes.  If you love to play chess, travel to tournmanets, etc. Then no.  I have pretty much had every clock there is from the basic cheap plastic ones to the Chronos touch sensor model.  My favorite is the Chronos Touch Sensor model, but to be honest.  Nothing beats a good old fashioned BHB analog chess clock.  I still kinda miss the days of hearing all those analog clocks and there "tick tick tick"

    Playing speed chess on an analog clock was the best.  We would hit that clock so hard trying to get the flag to fall.  

  • #4
    I bought a kitchen timer from Radio Shack for $10; and a chess clock is like 2 kitchen timers... Its $20 price doesn't seem too unreasonable. Now, that $5 digital watch probably has a stop watch, and a chess clock is like 2 digital watches... Its $20 price does seem high. But my digital watch costs over $200, and a chess clock is like... Anyway, in a free market, it is hard for something to stay overpriced.
  • #5
    I've just returned to chess after a ten-year layoff. But can a dedicated chess clock still compete with the savable-setting features offered in iPhone chess clock apps? Like the one I'm currently using -- Chess Clock Expert? And it's always with me, so ... ?
  • #6
    Can I use a phone in a tournament?
  • #7

                   Try playing a timed game using 2 sundials. May be difficult on a cloudy day....!

  • #8

    In my experience , phones just don't work well as chess clocks.  Yes, they can work in a pinch, but it's slow and hard to read.

  • #9

    digital clocks high profit.  mechanical clocks are probably not overpriced, when compared to mechanical watches.  They're harder and costlier to make properly.

  • #10

    Mechanical clocks are harder in many ways.  But when you can not mass produce something it brings up the cost per unit.  Many electronic components that are common you do not get a price break unless you buy 1K or 10K or 100K in some cases.  If you are ordering  PCB or PWB for the clock and everyone has one and you only order 100 you are paying a lot. I used to get quotes on PCB's single later up to many and you could usually buy 1K boards for a lot less per unit than 50 or 100 boards.  You also have NRE (on-recurring engineering) when they make a new board for you that you can amortize among 1K units vs 100 units, then you can get the prices much lower.

    You may think there is a lot of profit in the digitals but there really isn't.  Tournament Chess is still not a popular hobby, 

  • #11
    BeepBeepImA747 wrote:
    Can I use a phone in a tournament?


  • #12
    I mean as a clock lol.
  • #13
    BeepBeepImA747 wrote:
    I mean as a clock lol.


  • #14
    Even if I'm obviously not using an engine?
  • #15
    BeepBeepImA747 wrote:
    Even if I'm obviously not using an engine?

    Your desire for attention is an old act.

  • #16
    WTH how am I looking for attention? I'm just asking a question, JEEZ. No one asked you to comment either.
  • #17
    Agreed.  That's the problem with so much chess equipment and books - we're a niche market.  The economy of scale that gives us a $5 watch just don't carry over to chess clocks.  As for something being high margin, I think you'd probably be surprised at how little money there is to be made in the sort of chess equipment we all love.  
    wiscmike wrote:

    You may think there is a lot of profit in the digitals but there really isn't.  Tournament Chess is still not a popular hobby, 


  • #18

    No, you can't use a phone for a clock in a tournament.  And the main reasons phones are worse than chess clocks is that chess clocks are built for stability and readability, and tactile feedback.  Hitting a clock button gives much better feedback which leads to a more comfortable experience -- there is no insecurity about whether your "touch" registered, there's no wondering if you accidentally swiped instead of tapped, pulling down a menu, there's no hoping you don't get interrupted by a phone call, etc.  Also, phones can and will slide all over the place during a time scramble, and no one wants to deal with what happens when you lunge for the phone after a move trying to get to it before the flag falls and knock it across the room.


    There are just way too many issues with using a phone.

  • #19
    Thank you for actually being helpful. I guess I'll just get a clock.
  • #20

    Here is the problem...it is the batch sizes,  tooling,  dies,  and beta testing.  A watch they will make a million of.  A typical run of chess clocks for a popular one is 5000-10000 units.  It is easy for a machine to run for a couple of days running the same watch.  Switch to a chess clock,  the machine might run for a day at the most.  Every time they switch over the machine,  you have labor and downtime on the machine,  which adds to the cost.

    Then we come to the tooling and dies.  I know the cost of the molds for one of the most popular clocks on the market just for the cases was 30K.  Divide it out by the total run of the clocks vs the total run of the watch,  there is a HUGE difference.

    Then you come to the cost of testing and beta-testing.  I know with the VTEK300,  we had 2 years of in house testing plus another 1.5-2 years of beta testing.  That's not cheap.  The higher number you divide it out by,  the cheaper it is per item.  

    Now let's look at size and with it cost of materials.  A typical chess clock is 3-4 times the size of a watch at a minimum.  Think about how much extra material is in a chess clock.  There is a TON of extra cost there too.

    When you break it down,  the main driver on the higher cost of an item is  based on the total overall run of the item.  Look at the markets.  Everyone should have a watch,  and some people have dozens.  How many people really need a chess clock?  

    As for the margins on a typical chess clock,  you'd be surprised.  They are not even close to what you would think.  I know the margins on the VTEK are pretty small right now because we are not moving the volume we need which means the batches we make them in are small.  As our numbers go up,  the cost to produce the item goes down.  If sales skyrocket (which we hope),  it will actually let us make some money on the thing.


    I seriously hope this helps!

    Shelby Lohrman

    American Chess Equipment


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