INTO THE SPOTLIGHT: The secret of the Giants
A lot has been written about must-have watches, about appreciation of value and the second-hand market in general. The prevailing question that remains is why does a particular timepiece show up on all the omni-present lists? Is it innovation, the looks, the history, the “unavailability” or only plain good old marketing?
The answer to the questions doubtlessly is a bit of everything. We will take a closer look at two of the most sought-after watches: the Rolex Submariner and the Omega Speedmaster. Both watches epitomize the rise of a brand by technical accomplishment paired with excellent marketing.
Rolex revolutionized wristwatches when it offered the first waterproof Oyster in 1926 and made this fact known to a broader audience by product placement which was unheard of at that time. The first English female swimmer to attempt to cross the English Channel, Mercedes Gleitze, wore an Oyster that was given to her by the Rolex founder, Hans Wilsdorf. While the attempt to cross the Channel had failed, the advertising campaign was a major success. Continuing the drive for technical excellence, Rolex invented the self-winding Oyster Perpetual watch and ultimately created the Submariner, the prototype of all diving watches in 1953.
Rolex continued developing watches for very distinct purposes which irrevocably paired a watch with an achievement that was significant to the entire world and could not be surpassed by anyone: the purpose-built Explorer was the first watch on the highest point of the world while the special Sea-Dweller was the first watch at the deepest spot of the ocean.
Paired with advertising campaigns featuring the heroes Sir Edmund Hillary and Auguste Piccard who accomplished these major feats for humanity and in more recent history leaders from all categories spanning sports, fine arts and politics reflect that Rolex is the symbol for epic achievements, success, and grandeur – qualities anyone would want to be associated with. Add the fact that even though Rolex is by far the largest of the luxury watch manufacturers, it appears to be almost impossible to obtain any Rolex stainless steel watch from an official retailer, and it is clear why Rolex is and remains one of the most desired and valuable brands in the world.
Omega achieved similar success and brand recognition by developing the standard issue watch for NASA astronauts. The first watch on the moon is an achievement that simply cannot be duplicated and made the Speedmaster Professional an instant icon whose fame is still going strong over 50 years after the first moon landing.
To this day, the Speedmaster is the only space certified watch and is word for all extravehicular activities in space. Only time will tell whether Omega will also be supplying the first watch on planet Mars. The myths around the moon landing paired with careful advertising campaigns using celebrities such as George Clooney and Cindy Crawford ensure that the Omega Speedmaster – which is also fittingly called Moonwatch – remains one of the most popular and due to significantly better availability one of the more affordable luxury watches available today.