Sunday, October 12, 2008

Time is Running Out on Watchmakers

Chances are you are not an astronaut or a fighter pilot. You're probably not a Navy SEAL. And I'm not really going out on any limbs to doubt that few of you are secret agents, competitive yachtsmen or race car drivers.

The New York Times included this morning a "special advertising supplement" (66 pages) devoted exclusively to "luxury timepieces." Or "chronographs." These are those things that used to be called "watches." You wear them on your wrist and glance down at them, just in case you didn't see the clock on your computer, your phone, the one in your car, the three in the kitchen, the one on the cable box and the one on the DVD player.

I was in a meeting not long ago in which sat about 12 people ranging in age from 25 to 45. Men and women, professionals all, and not a one of us was wearing a watch. We made mention of this and it was agreed that there was no point anymore in wearing a watch. Watchmakers know this is happening and they're seeing their sales fall. Included in the NYT's glossy watch magazine was a two-page spread asking a bunch of smug, white CEOs of watch companies, "Why do you wear a watch?" They gave answers like, "A watch reflects my attitude," and "A watch is a private piece of art," and "It is all about unlimited pleasure and fantastic emotion." OK. As long as we agree that it's just an accessory at this point and is not really used for keeping time. And I need to spend thousands of dollars for this thing that has devolved into a status symbol?

Good luck, watchmakers. I'm sure the NYT was glad to take your money for what will prove to be a failed effort. I understand that in hard economic times it is important to advertise, but you are selling something no one really needs or can really afford right now.

Previously in watch rants: Never Seem to Find the Time

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  • I saw it on the nytimes website and the creative was good enough on the site (it was also wall-to-wall) to get me to click (something I almost never do). But the site was so hip and cool that I didn't know what they were trying to get me to do.

    By Blogger Chris Houchens, at October 12, 2008 at 10:30 PM  

  • Wow, I never thought of it like that. I buy a cool watch just in case I end up flying a jet, Other buy cool bicycles in case they want to 'get in shape' and thousands of middle agers buy a chinese-made guitar, just in case they might become that rock start they used to dream of being. Still, a waste of money on watch ads.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at October 14, 2008 at 8:02 PM  

  • Anon:

    My bike is not cool - and it was cheap. And it DID get me in shape!

    Furthermore: my guitar was made in America. In the 1950s. And I didn't harbor those dreams until just a few years ago!

    (Sorry. You seemed to be in my head there for a minute.)

    By Blogger Jetpacks, at October 14, 2008 at 8:24 PM  

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