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Celebrities and watches: A complete guide
Trend Forecaster

Celebrities and watches: A complete guide

Thursday, 19 October 2017
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William McNish
Strategic Planner at RE-UP

“There is nothing quite as beautiful as the spark in a person's eye when you bring up something they are passionate about.”

Creative flare with an analytic mindset.

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8 min read

Watches and celebrities go hand in hand. We’ve created this complete guide to show how the relationship works, and what makes it so important to Fine Watchmaking.

One of the earliest references to what we would now call a wristwatch was given to Queen Elizabeth I by Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester, in 1571. Gifted to a ‘celebrity’, it was instantly seen as a statement of style and status.

Now, almost 500 years later, celebrities have ingrained themselves into just about every part of the Fine Watchmaking process. Brands collaborate with them to design limited editions; they put their watches on their wrist as part of ambassador / influencer strategies, and sometimes celebrities help to make a watch become more than itself – they create an icon.

It’s a mutually beneficial relationship – celebrities are as important to the Fine Watchmaking industry as the timepieces are to these celebrities – that has stood the test of time, and shows no signs of waning.

We’ve curated articles from HH Journal on the theme of celebrity watches, and divided them into different topics and the type of influence celebrities can have on Fine Watchmaking.

Click on the following resources to directly jump to the right sections:

The New Brand Endorsement Strategies
Case Studies: How Brands Leverage Celebrities
The Influence of Celebrities on Fine Watchmaking
How Entertainment Events are Turning into Communication Powerhouses
Celebrities and Watches: Our Profiles

The New Brand Endorsement Strategies

From George Kern and IWC’s ‘Friends of the Brand’ initiative to The Omega Moonwatch with Buzz Aldrin, brands are always trying to somehow harness the power of celebrities. Different brands have different strategies, but one thing brands will always have in common is celebrities wearing their timepieces. From social media tactics to in-depth brand case studies, we have looked at the new brand endorsement strategies being used within Fine Watchmaking.

SIHH 2017: The Year Social Media Became King
SIHH 2017 saw Fine Watchmaking brands embrace the power of social media by tapping into current trends and engaging new audiences. We looked at what brands were doing on their channels, and how IWC and Montblanc (to name but two) used celebrities to market their brand at the event.

Movies: Watchmaking’s Eight Headline Acts On The Film Scene
It’s no longer enough to adorn stars as they glide up festival steps. Watchmakers now expect to see their name in lights, too. We look at eight Fine Watch brands that are the best at getting their own celebrity status.

Case Studies: How Brands Leverage Celebrities

Celebrities often go beyond the role of ambassador, with brands now looking to create long-term partnerships with the stars, who even collaborate to design and create limited-edition timepieces. Here’s a list of recent brand collaborations.

IWC returns to its favourite Portofino
The longstanding “Friends of the Brand” series, imagined 15 years ago by IWC’s then CEO, Georges Kern, certainly hits the spot. The Portofino collection, for example, has been flaunted on the gracious and muscular arms of movie stars, invited to come and stay… where else but in Portofino.

Audemars Piguet Makes Music With Quincy Jones
We took a little look at how Audemars Piguet – for a charitable cause – collaborated with music luminary Quincy Jones to create a special-edition watch. The Quincy Jones Millenary Watch, limited to 500 pieces, helped raise money for Quincy’s “Q” project.

HYT – Champions League
Always the innovator, HYT joined forces with two athletes at the peak of their sporting careers, Antoine Griezmann and Barthez Competition, to create two new timepieces.

Richard Mille – Faster, Higher…
Richard Mille is no stranger to a great sports watch, so it made complete sense when the brand linked up with record-holding athletes Wayde Van Niekerk and Mutaz Essa Barshim for the RM 67-02 Sprint and the RM 67-02 High Jump, two sporting versions of the RM 67-01. Both were worn at this year’s IAAF World Championships in London.

The Influence of Celebrities on Fine Watchmaking

There’s always debate over the use of celebrity ambassadors, but what cannot be debated is that some of the most expensive watches ever sold were owned by celebrities. It’s also a fact that certain celebrities have gone beyond ‘influencer’ and become icons in Fine Watchmaking. Paul Newman, anyone?

Did Bowie Influence Watch Design?
Bowie was the king of androgyny, the master of transformation. His ability to blur the boundaries of gender is something that had never been seen before, and hasn’t been seen since. So as a ‘unisex’ human being, has this gender fluidity found its way into Fine Watchmaking?

Celebrity Owned Watches That Shone At The Auction House
Few things can increase the price of a timepiece more than celebrity ownership. We set out to understand what made the price of these watches skyrocket at auction. Was it a historical moment, a sporting achievement, or simply being owned by a true icon?

The Watch Of Presidents
Power and time go hand in hand. The President of the USA is arguably the most powerful human on the planet, yet they never seem to have enough time. During the last US presidential campaign, we looked at the two main candidates and their choice of wristwatch; what did it mean to them and what did it show the world about them?

How Entertainment Events are Turning into Communication Powerhouses

Luxury and entertainment have long been intertwined, in much the same way celebrities and Fine Watchmaking are. When it comes to the big events such as Cannes and the Oscars, brands fall over each other for a coveted spot on the red carpet.

Cannes Film Festival: 70 Years Of Luxury
This year Cannes celebrated two anniversaries: 70 years of the festival itself and 20 years of its partnership with Chopard. In this Trend Report, we look at Cannes’ ingrained connection with luxury and how Fine Watch brands try to take advantage of the event to boost their presence within the entertainment industry and beyond

The Oscars Of Watches
The Oscars are the biggest non-sporting event in the USA, with around 34.4 million people tuning in to this year’s ceremony. It’s prime advertising space, and what makes this so special is how dedicated the coverage is to what celebrities and influencers are wearing. It’s as much about fashion as it is about films and talent – which is why brands clad their ambassadors in their wares.

Celebrities and Watches: Our Profiles

Some celebrities are more than ambassadors or “Friends of the Brand”. There are many true celebrity collectors / watch enthusiasts, and we’ve taken the time to interview them and find out which timepieces are so special to them and why. Here’s a selection:

Anne Hathaway: “Every watch has its context”
For Anne Hathaway, her watch is far more than just an accessory. We discuss the masculinity and femininity of timepieces and how, sometimes, they can be works of art.

On Track With Sir Kenneth Branagh
Forty years after Sidney Lumet, Sir Kenneth Branagh is the director of a remake of “Murder on the Orient Express”, based on the Agatha Christie novel. We discussed the importance of time and why Hercule Poirot is always looking down at his watch.

Sylvester Stallone, His Life, His Dream, His Watches
Where Stallone comes from, a Rolex was more than just a watch or an accessory; it was proof that you’d made it. We caught up with the 71-year-old action star to discuss his passion for watches.

And if you’re not a fan of those stars, here’s a page showing all the celebrities that we’ve interviewed on the HH Journal.

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