If Watches were Cars
Watch & Bullion29 September 2019 | 6 min read
The watch and the car industry are two which are very closely connected. It is not without reason that between them we find such a high frequency of collaborations. They represent the ultimate in status symbols and men’s toys and accordingly have a similar customer base.
The result of this is that certain brands take inevitably similar approaches to their marketing and target audience creating a clear bond between both. A discussion on this, however, proves impossible without any meaningful statistics. A less accurate, but arguably more interesting, way to find the hidden connections between these two markets is to look at the ways in which the firms operate and act, the way they innovate and brand themselves. Analysing the spirit, if such a thing even exists, of these companies we want to take this idea beyond the late-night discussion we at Watch & Bullion already had on this topic to present to you: If watchmakers where car manufacturers.
Patek Philippe – Rolls-Royce
This is without a doubt the easiest choice on this list, mainly because this is the clearest case of both brands perfectly aligning themselves in terms of the relative hierarchy within their respective industry. Both Patek Philippe and Rolls-Royce represent the highest echelon of quality and workmanship that you can buy, or probably can’t due to their purposefully restrictive pricing. Much more significant than status and pricing for me in this example however is the way these brands act. With their conservative approach which can only be the result of a Company living longer than any of its original founders, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine these brands to continue being successful if they switched out their management. That conservative approach is of course also reflected in the products due to the classical designs, the over-engineering in places you don’t see, as well as their historical significance due to sharing the stage with some of the most important people of the 20th century. For me this is without a doubt the clearest example of this brand synergy and leaves me begging for a collaboration. I mean just imagine: The Patek Nautilus Wraith Edition.
Rolex – Mercedes
The Rolex example is a bit less straight forward, but for me at the end of the day Mercedes can be the only choice. A lot of people I talked to have suggested BMW as their automotive equivalent, and while it is a good one I feel like Mercedes is the better fit for a few reasons. To begin with while many consider a Rolex a luxury product, they are not nearly as unattainable for your average Joe as a Patek is. Just like a Mercedes, most people who save up for these items can eventually afford them. The German luxury cars as well as the Swiss watchmaker represents the symbolic door to the world of luxury. While us enthusiasts may personally disagree, the fact of the matter is that if you mention a nice Swiss watch people think of a Rolex, and if you talk about a German car they think of a Benz. Additionally, within their markets, both these brands have helped shape their industry into what they are today through a string of world firsts and a reputation for excellent craftsmanship as the base of their operation. These are true heavyweights who progress through subtle development rather than radical innovations.
Omega – Audi
The following brands are all a bit more difficult to assign than the previous two. For me, Omega would have to be Audi, especially when considering its relative standing compared to Rolex. Omega, just like Audi, is a very well respected and known brand that however does not have quite the same level of prestige and mass appeal as Rolex and Mercedes do. The similarity that sold me on this symbiosis is the focus on technical innovations. Both Omega with their Co-Axial movement and Audi with their Quattro all-wheel-drive system have managed to let their competitors in the rear-view mirror through their creativity. The result of this has been that they have created some of the most hardcore and dedicated fan bases who swear their loyalty to this brand.
Audemars Piguet – Ferrari
While Hublot would certainly like to be a Ferrari, as shown by their own collaborations, that position is reserved for another brand. The true Ferrari brand in this exercise would have to be none other than Audemars Piguet, and here is why. While the Royal Oak seems to be 99% of what makes up the brand in the 21st Century AP has much like Ferrari a very rich history. While the respective products of both these brands attract the newly rich they have an equal appeal to old money. What really connects these brands together is that in contrast to their thrilling designs the brands that produce them are reserved rather than flamboyant. They are elevated in status by having provided hopeful dreams not only to many kids but also for younger brands who would feel inspired to leave their own mark on the world and eventually even compete with the big guys.
Hublot – Lamborghini
Why are Hublot and Lamborghini the only option for this pairing? Let’s not forget that it was Ferrari rejecting Lamborghini that lead him to create his own brand to compete, and it is an open secret that the Royal Oak and its success was a major Inspiration for Hublot and their line of Big Bang watches. Both of these brands are brash and loud, attracting the clientele to match. The products they make are both extreme status symbols that make for amazing posters. For many young people these are milestone achievements in their life and as such hold a special place in their heart. Just be wary of their reliability as repairs don’t come cheap.
Jaeger LeCoultre – Jaguar
Jaeger LeCoultre, a watch that brand that requires respect but never demands attention. Just like Jaguar has always competed at the top but never been in the mainstream appeal like a Mercedes or Ferrari. Their style is refined and both brands have managed to produce true classics like the E-type or the Reverso. It is doubtful that these brands will ever make the major league, but maybe that is a good thing as it leaves them to be appreciated by some of the most enthusiastic collectors. What sets this pair apart though is that it seems they are very much content with their position and do not want to be in the limelight.
Richard Mille – Pagani
Extreme, exclusive, and arguably excessive. Those three adjectives could be used interchangeably to describe either Richard Mille or Pagani. Two brands committed to going to places where the word sensible has no place in the dictionary. Very expensive and with a taste for carbon fiber these two young brands have thrown the rule book out of the window and by doing so appealed to a whole new generation of wealth. What unites them is that their designs speak for themselves in the sense that you do not need to know anything about their respective industry to sense that you are seeing something special.
Seiko – Nissan
How many brands do you know that offer a product range so wide that it caters to just about everyone? Well, I can think of two from the top of my head; Seiko and Nissan. Seiko needs little introduction on this website, being known for offering unquestionable quality at all levels of pricing ranging from their Seiko 5 line up to the Grand Seiko and Credor. Similar to that Nissan has managed to make a name for themselves by using that very same spray and play mentality offering electric models like the leaf, family SUVs like the Qashqai or race cars like the GTR. These Asian giants have managed to claw themselves up the ranks through a combination of grit and technological advancements in their production.
So, what do you think of my selection? Any you disagree on, any that you feel where missing? Give me your thoughts in the comments section, I will do my best to get back to everyone!