Somewhere between New York and China, a couple sits in the lobby of a five star hotel until their room that was supposed to be available hours earlier is ready. In front of them on a table is a series of artfully fanned out “lifestyle magazines,” each populated with at least 10 ads for luxury couples watches, most of which feature a brand name floating around a gloriously photographed and meticulously edited timepiece image, with little to no supporting text. These magazines exist exclusively to find their way into places where people, who are suspected to have large disposable incomes, wait.
Modern luxury couples watches brands, in a large way, are influenced by the luxury fashion industry. What has been communicated to me is that the watch companies, in an attempt to become more “luxury” on a mainstream basis, have turned to lessons from companies selling expensive clothing, jewelry, and other accessories. These non-mechanical items have focused on visual imagery, style, and lifestyle as a means of positioning their brands and products. The question is whether or not watches are more like clothing, or perhaps something else, better suited to a mechanical device that in part is being sold on a degree of lasting value.
While watch brands may have “fashion on their minds” when contemplating marketing decisions, they also like to preach the value of heritage and timelessness. These qualities, in many instances, are mutually exclusive from the idea that something is meant to be worn on a temporary basis only. Luxury couples watches also differ from fashion because different mentalities are at work when appreciating the desirability of the items. The guy who is interested in watch movements and car engines, isn’t likely to be the same demographic that watches runway shows and is interested in the style section of the newspaper or websites.