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The Oscars of Watches

The Oscars of Watches

Friday, 14 April 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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9 min read

26th February saw Hollywood host the 89th Academy Awards, The Oscars. Beyond the awards (and controversy) the red carpet event gives brands a unique chance to market themselves on one of the biggest stages of all.

The Oscars is the biggest non-sporting event in the US in terms of viewers, with around 34.4 million tuning in to this year’s ceremony. Fashion is of the utmost importance during the event with brands climbing over each other for a chance to be featured on key celebrities and influencers.

With so many brands competing for the same consumers, it is vital that they harness the power of influencers in a social media world. Last year, 49% of people said that they rely on recommendation from influencers when making big decisions i.e. buying the right watch.

The Oscars itself is prime advertising space, the full package across all media platforms. The red carpet is covered across every big American TV network, about 300,000 mentions across Twitter, blog and new sites, and the hashtag #Oscars2017 was used over 170,000 times on Instagram.

What makes this event so special is how dedicated the coverage is to what these celebrities and influencers are wearing. It’s as much about fashion as it is about films and talent. This is why brands clad their ambassadors in their wares.

Watch and film will always be intertwined

Watches in films is a love story that works both ways. With the right type of placement a watch can be launched in the history books. Just look at Le Mans. The film not only did a lot to secure Steve McQueen into a silver screen legend, it also had a profound influencer on Tag Heuer’s story, especially the Heuer Monaco, which was catapulted into stardom. When sold at auction, it was not only the most expensive Hollywood timepiece ever sold, it was also the most expensive Tag Heuer ever sold. This alone shows the influence that having the right person, wearing the right watch, in the right film can have.

On the flipside, a watch can also have a huge impact within a film. It may not be able to increase sales but it does have the power to set a scene without anything other than the glimpse of a wrist. Marty McFly in Back To The Future is seen wearing a Casio Databank, and what else would you need to see to realise that the film is set in the 80’s? Nothing…

The watch Batman wears is a slightly less known story, but Bruce Wayne is always seen wearing a Jaeger LeCoultre Reverso. The collaboration ran so deep that after the release of Dark Knight Rises, Jaeger LeCoultre actually released a limited-edition Reverso with the Batman symbol on the back of the face.

Product placement to influencer marketing

In terms of marketing techniques, product placement is old hat. Brands are now trying to find new techniques to carve their name into cinema. SWAG bags were somewhat a tradition at the Oscars, these bags include lavish gifts to award nominees as a way for brands to advertise themselves.

However, in 2006 this all stopped and the awards cut affiliation with the idea. It was carried on by a company called Distinctive Assets who are now being sued by the Academy Awards for not properly stating that their bags had no affiliation to the event. The idea of these bags isn’t dissimilar from brand ambassadors and even product placement. Brands sometime give away $100,000’s worth of products to nominees in the hopes of getting coverage at the event, after the event and on social media channels. Finely-tuned PR machines pump out the press release to online news sites and brands therefore gain popularity in the ‘shopping’ categories of media.

There is now a need for brands to do more than simply place their product during the Oscars and the photo-calls. They need to create a genuine and long-lasting connection with potential customers. There is a need for Fine Watchmaking brands to evolve their relationship with cinema, similar to how Tag Heuer did all those years ago with Le Mans.

Rolex’s Oscars 2017 Instagram campaign pays homage to this, by showing the effect that their timepieces have had in certain films.

Rolex also featured several short clips of Hollywood director, James Cameron talking about his relationship with watches. One caption reads “Exceptional cinema transports us to the past, present and future, with a vision as uncompromising as its attention to detail. Because only when every prop, every character, every performance is perfect can the audience be truly immersed in other worlds. Rolex is proud to recognise those who create the extraordinary.” By creating these sort of campaigns, Rolex are owning the relationship and carving themselves a history within cinema.

But as movie deals shrink there is a need to diversify sources of revenue. The Oscars is not only the PR and marketing climax for the films and actors, its reach is now far wider than that with influencers, YouTubers, bloggers and TV talent carving their history into event. Look no further than Samsung’s ad during this year’s event, presented by Casey Neistat and focusing on ‘the rest of us’ who don’t need huge budgets to create great content.

Brands are taking notice of ‘the rest of us’ in a big way and TV stars are now being treated as well as movies stars. Look no further than Aldis Hodge, star of Underground – the Bovet pocket watch he was gifted for the event shows that Fine Watchmaking brands are trying to expand their audience beyond traditional ‘celebrities’, that are usually ambassadors of the brand already.

Watches at the Oscars 2017

We’ve spoken of the history around the Oscars and where the future of the Oscar (in terms of Fine Watchmaking) seems to be heading, but what about what was worn this year? Well, there were a few standout timepieces:

Aldis Hodge, whom we mentioned earlier didn’t even wear the Bovet he was gifted for the event. Instead he chose one from his own collection, a Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon 30 Sapphire worth $1.7 million dollars. A true aficionado of Fine Watchmaking, Aldis is in the process of creating his own brand.

A post shared by Aldis Hodge (@aldis_hodge) on

Nicole Kidman, a long-time Omega ambassador was lent a very special piece straight out of the Omega Museum. The diamond stuffed piece dates back to the mid-20th century and was a secret watch, with its dial covered with a decorative front.

A post shared by OMEGA (@omega) on

So who won the influencer game? Montblanc, of course. In a long term strategy which involves a huge number of ambassadors – one which they put into effect at SIHH this year – the brand didn’t disappoint at the Oscars with the likes of Denzel Washington, Josh Dallas, Casey and Ben Affleck and Chris Evans, AND MORE all donning their timepieces.

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