Time to Sell Watches

ProTek designs military-grade watches so consumers can wear them with confidence.

Time to Sell Watches

Watches might not quite be synonymous with gun shops, but there are plenty of reasons to stock quality timepieces. 

ProTek is a new tritium illuminated tactical watch brand launched by Barry Cohen, the founder and former owner of Luminox. Cohen had plans to retire when he sold his shares of the company back in 2016, but the desire to build something even better finally brought him back.   

“When we set out to create this brand we began with two phrases, no excuses and no compromises,” Cohen says. 

Shooting Sports Retailer recently spoke with Cohen about his new company, its foothold with military and police organizations, and why retailers should think about dedicating a little space to these watches. 

MSW: What makes a great watch?

Cohen: Source top quality components and work with superior manufacturers. I know we have chosen the best components but our manufacturing is also top notch with all watches assembled in clean-room conditions to ensure superior quality for the final products. If you use inferior components, the end result will be a lower quality watch, and we will not go this route. 


MSW: You use the phrase all-terrain watch. What does that mean?

Cohen: We launched the brand with three series, two dive series — Carbon Composite (300 meters) and 316L Stainless Steel (200 meters) and a Titanium Field series (100 meters), two types of watches suited for two different environments, or terrains. We have a few other series designed already and will release them as we go forward, and one is an Aviator series that adds yet another terrain.  


MSW: You make watches for military and law enforcement. How does that translate to the average shooter or hunter?

Cohen: We found over the years if we make rugged, quality watches for the target market of law enforcement and suitable for military use, this seems to be a stamp of credibility that sportsmen and outdoorsmen, including the shooter, hunter and fisherman seem to like. This gives them a comfort level to buy these watches, probably assuming correctly if it is good enough for these target groups it will certainly be good enough for their recreational uses. 


MSW: How do you go about designing and creating watches, selecting the materials, components and finishes you use? Cohen: I’ve been doing this for more than 30 years and spent an enormous amount of time working with a fantastic Swiss designer, one of the best in the industry, who designed some of the top models ever for industry giants like TAG Heuer and Gucci. He just knows his stuff. He and I have worked side by side on designs for my former brand and pay enormous attention to the fine points and the nuances of the designs to get them just right, and we think we do a pretty good job of it, but you be the judge. After all these years, we know the best components to use for each series we’re developing. Then we go back and forth on the design nuances until we think we’ve nailed it. Once we get the outlook to be what we like, then we add color ways to arrive at a full series. 

MSW: Why should watches be on the average gun shop’s radar?

Cohen: Several reasons. First, ProTek watches should be on their radar because their self-powered and unsurpassed tritium lume technology glows non-stop for 25 years. The gun shops and their customers know this lume tech very well already from the night sites used on guns, so these watches fit with the gear they already know and love. Next, these watches sell and that’s the best reason to stock them. They are in business to sell goods after, and to offer great products to their customers. We fit that description to a tee.      


MSW: What sort of product testing do you do?

Cohen: A lot of testing goes into the manufacture of our watches. We run approximately two dozen testing procedures (too many to list here) to know the watch is perfect before it leaves the factory. These consist of a wide array of testing procedures that cover all aspects of the watch. Then, since we regard water resistance to be of paramount importance for an outdoorsman’s timepiece, all watches go through two testing processes, first in air and then in water. That’s not typically done because if a water test fails the watch has to be tossed, but we want to know all our watches are up to the rigors of water resistance so we go through the extra step.


MSW: What is the strength or hallmark of ProTek watches?

Cohen: The brand is rugged at heart, made to outfit those who live an active lifestyle. And our self-powered unsurpassed illumination system is just fantastic. Once you wear this type of watch it will become part of your daily life. I remember being at a Cabela’s event once and listening to person after person tell me the watches I make are indeed part of their lives, something they simply did not want to live without. I was humbled and honored. This time around I wanted to take it up a notch and make them even better, and I know we did that. We take no shortcuts and cut no corners. Quality is our mandate. 


MSW: What’s your connection to the military, law enforcement and shooting sports?

Cohen: It’s mostly knowing many who have served and even been maimed or injured in the line of duty that drives me. I just have an overriding respect for those who serve (or served) and protect us in any capacity, whether it be in law enforcement or the military. By the way, our brand name has meaning …. Pro is for the professionals we are aiming for and Tek is for our lume technology, and then in a bit of a pun they are aimed at those that protect us. Those who devote their lives to ensuring we can enjoy the lifestyle we have become accustomed to (and tend to take for granted but never should) deserve our ongoing respect and support. 

MSW: You’ve only fairly recently launched the ProTek brand. What are you doing to expand distribution and get in retail shops?

Cohen: I think the most important thing we’ve accomplished thus far is affiliating with the United States Marines. We are honored that they’ve designated ProTek as an official watch brand of the Marines, and will be releasing a new series at the upcoming SHOT Show that is the official watch of the United States Marines. These can be seen at the show in booth 31506.

We are just getting going and are seeking retail distribution and international distribution as well. We are getting the word out with PR and advertising is to let people know we are here for them with the best tritium timepieces they will ever get — bar none. We are also working on important affiliations based on my longstanding relationships and many years of supplying to this community and are underway on watch projects for numerous law enforcement agencies that will bear their names and/or logos so we can get onto key wrists to get the word out. In fact, we hope this article informs others so they will come to us to develop watches with their branding on them, made especially for each group.    


MSW: For the retailer, is this like other small higher-priced items — high margins and minimal real estate required?

Cohen: Obviously the amount of retail space needed to show watches is minimal so we hope we can entice retailers. We have retail displays and point-of-sale signs that show and explain the watches for both in-case and top-of-counter (or window). We offer solid margins so this should not be an impediment. We are not placing high demands on retailers and want them to feel comfortable adding the brand. We just want to get going with them knowing this will turn into something strong for them. 


MSW: Will you be offering any dealer incentives or assistance?

Cohen: Yes, of course we will be offering show specials and incentives for them to take advantage of. 


MSW: Anything else you’d like to add?

Cohen: Yes. We’d just like your audience to know that even though we are the new kids on the block with the ProTek brand in the world of tritium illuminated watches, we have a long history in the category and in fact popularized this technology and helped to usher in the tactical watch phenomenon. Our core group has 90 years of watch trade experience so we are not some fly-by-night newcomers. We truly believe this time around we make the very best one can get for this type of watch product. We invite all to come check us out and see for themselves. We think you will be quite impressed.


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