The traditional watch making industry should have long become obsolete. No one needs really needs a watch; they are expensive and the economy is in a recession. Yet, the industry is booming and adverts of celebrities donning power watches are all around. This is most true for men’s watches. So what is it about watches that men love so much that no price is too high?
Men love their watches, just as women love their jewellery. The following case-in-point will demonstrate this further.
An obscure American watch manufacturer recently started making millions in sales for one of their inexpensive watch models. Not because it was a breakthrough in design or function, but because it was recurrently spotted on the most powerful wrists in the world. The Jorg Gray 6500 Chronometer was a birthday gift to President Barack Obama from his security team. It was a watch originally designed for members of the Secret Service. The watch itself is quite unremarkable in its features. Priced under USD 400, the watch is battery powered and does little more than telling the time and functioning as a stopwatch. The inexplicable success of the watch can be solely attributed to its association. Watches symbolize a club of power, taste and status, and all men want to be a part of it.
No wonder then, the luxury watch business is booming even when the economy is down in the dumps. The Swiss Watch industry touched a new record in exports at USD 23.5 Billion, an 11 percent growth from the previous year. Even though the sceptics keep predicting that cell phones and smartphones will soon make the watch obsolete, the industry defies all odds and keeps growing. The secret lies in the revolutionary design philosophy and marketing programme that rescued the industry back from the brink. In the mid-1980’s horological pioneers decided to sell watches not merely as keepers of time but mini masterpieces that displayed fine craftsmanship and tradition embracing innovation and technology. They were hence made into a perennial style statement for men. They represented a Savile Row suit, a Ferrari, a platinum card and NASA spaceship rolled into a single package one could wear on their wrist.
Gone are the days when a gold watch handed over by father to his 21 year old son was the only precious watch for a man. The new man wants to own several expensive watches and build a collection he can be proud of. Branding is key- when Tag Heuer teamed up with the McLaren team; their watches earned instant association with formula one, one of the world’s most glamorous and dangerous sports. The brand became synonymous with speed, adventure and danger, and all men wanted to own their tiny bit of the Grand Prix action.
In the end it’s not what the watch does, but what it represents that makes men so obsessed with them. Its true- men notice each other’s watches like women notice shoes. A watch can tell a lot about a man. Not just who he is, but more so, who he aspires to be.