How Collaborations Shaped the World of Watches – WWD
Collaboration is everywhere – and in today’s consumer market, it has become as inescapable as competition as today’s society remains fascinated with the idea of multiple, distinct personalities, whether brands or individuals, converging to create a single product.
There are few industries that boast such a rich tradition of collaboration as the world of watchmaking. Because a watch is a smaller canvas to work on than clothing or shoes, collaborations yield more unique results. Even the smallest modifications in design have a significant impact on the original style.
Watch collaborations reflect different worldviews and blend the art of watchmaking with broader cultural fields such as art, sports and fashion. These partnerships are a strategic decision to help expand the industry to other subcultures.
The goal is to reach audiences who may not have previously considered buying or wearing watches – while also sparking the interest of enthusiasts. By co-creating limited-edition products with pop culture favorites, collaborations attract the attention of consumers with diverse interests and fan the flame of hype, making them the new “gateway drug.”
“It is definitely the biggest trend in the industry today,” said Eugene Totonikov, CEO of SwissWatchExpo. “It has moved beyond the classic reissue trend, as brands dig into their archives and breathe new life into their designs. The growing popularity of watch collaborations means one thing: watchmakers are becoming more willing to give others creative license in their watches.”
However, viewing collaborations are nothing new. Over the years the brands have partnered with various partners including popular artists such as Takashi Murakami and English Premier League football teams such as Juventus in partnership with Hublot; Singers like John Mayer and Ed Sheeran with G-Shock; Car companies such as Aston Martin with Gerard-Perregaux; Bvlgari with Japanese architect Tadao Ando; Audemars Piguet with jeweler Carolina Bucci and even Marvel Studios; Tag Heuer and Nintendo; Seiko, clothing brand Rowing Blazers, the list goes on.
In fact, since watch collaborations aren’t going away anytime soon, there’s an argument that they’re just starting to hit their stride.
“Collaborations expand a brand’s reach. In a successful collaboration, each contributor brings something important to the table, broadening the creative horizon and reaching audiences that may not have been on the radar before. It’s about creating a shared story, a story that goes beyond the It is this depth and authenticity that makes collaborations not only successful, but also meaningful in the broader cultural landscape,” said Justin Rees, Global CEO of 1916 Company (WatchBox).
The key is launching the collaboration in the right way to make sure collectors and true fans get it, with brands enhancing the concept by turning details into a compelling narrative, shared experiences, creating a sense of community, and making everyone feel like a collaborator in the business. the operation.
“I am impressed and energized by Jean Arnault’s approach to collaboration – highlighting LVMH for bringing independent watchmaking to the global stage. From the Louis Vuitton Watch Award for Independent Creators to the unexpected and highly complex collaboration between Akrivia by Rexhep Rexhepi and Louis Vuitton,” said Ries. The message of collaboration is reinforced with authenticity.”
One recent example of this craze is the Swatch Group, whose collection of Swiss brands extends largely across the pricing spectrum, but the company is careful not to water down the position of each.
In 2022, Swatch and fellow luxury brand Omega created a planet-themed collection, dubbed “MoonSwatch,” that has now become one of its core lines, a marriage that has created huge lines of fans and newcomers alike eager to snap up one of the drops . These efforts combined Swatch’s affordable pricing with Omega’s historic position as a supplier of watches to American astronauts.
Swatch expanded the concept this year with the new Blancpain . It brought the iconic Fifty Fathoms brand to a wider audience, as manual assembly was replaced by automated manufacturing thanks to Swatch.
“The collaboration between Blancpain and Swatch has helped Blancpain penetrate an untapped segment of young buyers that it had not previously reached. Media coverage of the lines in Swatch stores, and the excitement leading up to the model’s debut, have helped,” said Joshua Gangi, CEO and President. “The reviews of individual buyers on social media platforms helped Blancpain get more coverage and organic exposure than they could have ever dreamed of.” Curator of the European watch company.
Although both Swatch collaborations have achieved significant sales, it is important to remember that brand associations should not just be transactional but should also increase brand value.
“Some watch companies like Hublot and MBF have built their brands and businesses on collaboration, while others use collaboration very selectively. In all cases, the brand is looking forward to establishing a long-term relationship with its customers which will hopefully include a number of watches on For their lives. Collaborations are a great way to pique a customer’s interest and give them a reason to expand their collection. It’s important for watch companies to have an insight into what their customers are looking for, as well as a general sense of the market – and that’s where we come in. We work closely with our partners in Watch brands to ensure there is a dialogue happening with Watches of Switzerland Group Executive Vice President David Hurley said: “This is a significant milestone for the end consumer, and the feedback has been well received.”
However, in a world where most mechanical watches have outlived their original purpose as practical tools with the advent and slow takeover of smartwatches, brands face the more difficult prospect of bringing relevant quality to the wider consumer while adding freshness to their modern offspring. Creativity and new technologies.
“It would be interesting to see more watchmakers collaborating with industries to solve specific customer problems. We rarely see partnerships like Rolex and Comex these days, where two greats come together to test and develop new technology. Richard Mille is one of the brands coming to Mindfulness. The brand developed the 2017 RM 50-03, its lightest mechanical chronograph, in collaboration with the University of Manchester and McLaren Applied Technologies. “Collaborations of this kind are promising and I hope to see more of them,” said SwissWatchExpo’s Totonikov.
At the same time, consumers are craving novelty and pieces that will offer greater collectibility, especially in the technology space, with the promise and expectation that watch brands can offer consumers something truly special.
“Zenith x Kari Voutilainen x Phillips is a prime example of how Zenith can offer a vintage Observatory movement that was not present in their current catalogue, the Caliber 135. This caliber was then finished and assembled by Kari Voutilainen, one of the most talented independent watchmakers,” Alexander said. Ghotbi, Deputy Director and Head of Europe and the Middle East Division and Director of the Europe and Middle East Division at Philips in association with Pax &: Russo.
Even as luxury watch sales surged during and after the pandemic, collaborations have helped expand the industry’s influence into different subgenres, allowing it to reach people who might not have thought about wearing watches earlier.
“Despite the explosion of collaboration in the past few years, we believe there is still great momentum, and we see no signs of this slowing down in the near future. We are confident that consumer interest in watches will continue to grow. Watches of Switzerland’s Hurley said: In fact, we just announced today that we expect to double our sales by 2028. This continued growth will fuel the need for more creativity, more innovation, and yes, more collaboration.”
“I can definitely see a lot of watch brands trying to capitalize on the success of the Omega x Swatch collaboration, and trying something similar. But it’s impossible to say whether or not these steps will work. It’s all about marketing and storytelling with each collaboration.” Fans want to subscribe In a story, all they have to do is tell it the right way,” said Kieron, a fan and content creator, from the @TopTierTicker Instagram account.