Celebrity Watch Coverage – Who Cares?

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Tom Brady celebrity watches

Tom Brady Caps Off Super Bowl Run With an Excellent Watch gq.com reports, introducing their newfound commitment to weekly celebrity watch coverage. True story. The Super Bowl winner’s IWC Top Gun Chronograph is an excellent watch. It’s a bit big but we’re talking about a ceramic timepiece sheltering IWC’s in-house 69380 Calibre movement. Why are we talking about it? Because Tom Brady wore it! And why did Tom Brady wear it? Because . . .

The IWC “brand ambassador” is contractually obliged to wear IWC watches in public. In exchange, Mr. Brady gets money for pimping and his watches for free. For good reason: he gives his paymasters a second bite of the media apple.

To launch a luxury watch, IWC and its ilk send a PR kit to the horological press and embargo the material (on pain of banishment). On the date specified, the usual suspects announce the model and shower it with praise. And . . . that’s it. Then what?

Here’s Tom Brady! He won the Super Bowl! And here’s Tom Brady wearing the new IWC Top Gun Chronograph! Write it up fellas! OK, yes, COVID-19 shot down the Top Gun sequel. Don’t mention that in the article M’kay?

George Clooney - OMEGA wearing celebrity watches

Mr. Brady is hardly the only well-known face paid to appeal to watch buyers. The Internet is lousy with brand ambassadors: athletes, actors, comedians, singers, harlots, authors, politicians, ballet dancers, the lot. There are also dozens of celebs who flaunt their watches who aren’t paid shills. As far as we know.

Either way, celebrity watches get lots of exposure. Are celebrity “endorsements” worth it for the manufacturers? Is there a connection between a celebrity wearing a particular watch and sales?

For the watch industry’s biggest players, it’s “pay no attention to the accountant behind that curtain (bitching about Return on Investment)! Get a Clooney! It’s all about brand awareness baby!” A fancy way of saying “we like hanging out with celebrities.”

Kim Kardashian celebrity watches

I reckon celebrity watches are metal movers. They influence three main markets:

– People who can afford a $9,150 IWC Top Gun or a $38,200 Rolex Lady-Datejust but have no idea about watches

– People who can hardly afford a bland AF $375 Tissot PRX and have no idea about watches

– Other celebrities/wannabe celebrities and social butterflies who only care about keeping up with the Kardashians

Let’s start with the third group: the rich and famous.

Celebrity watches - Drake

@celebrity_watchfinder reports that Drake’s Richard Mille “costs a lambo.” The cheapest Lamborghini (the Urus) costs $211,321. I can’t be bothered to research the Canadian rapper’s magnificent Mille. So let’s just say celebs operate in a highly rarefied air, watch buying-wise.

I’d bet dollars to donuts that Drake’s devotion boosts Mille’s millions. Being a celebrity – or your average multi-millionaire – is a competitive sport. To achieve or maintain social status, you have to signal your place in the pack. Right house, right car, right school for your kids, right clothes, right friends and yes, right watch. Common sense tells us that upmarket watchmakers make big bucks catering to celebrity-inspired social snobbery.

Celebrity watches - Dwayne Johnson's Breitling

Financially secure consumers – people well below FU money – are equally entranced by celebs. They distance fawn over A-listers like Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, a former pro wrestler with 217m Instagram followers. A post with the Insta muscle man wearing a Breitling is money in the bank. I did the math.

If one percent of the Mr. Johnson’s followers buy a Breitling, that’s 2.5m watches. Ha! If one percent of one percent of Instagram’s Rocklette’s buy a Breitling, that’s 25k watches. The $2k Colt Racer is The brand’s cheapest watch. Bottom line? Fifty million dollars.

Cara Delevingne and lion

And then there are people of limited means who don’t know sh*t from Shinola. Even if they can’t buy a watch based on a celebrity endorsement – whether paid or personal – they’re interested in everything their heroes do or own.

The fans click on celebrity watch articles, generating cash for the horological press. Which makes the watch press happy and gives watch industry marketeers another data point for their next death-by-Powerpoint presentation.

Conor McGregor Jacob & Co.

Celebrity timepieces may not influence self-assured, well informed watch enthusiasts, but it’s a bit of a laff mate! I fully admit my interest in celebrity watches that redefine kitsch while costing more than two Lambos.

Condescending schadenfreude or jealousy? Yes! Even if you think all celebrities are nuts, who wouldn’t want an unlimited watch buying budget? To score free high-end watches? Magic.

Conor McGregor celebrity watches

I dream of a day when a man or woman are judged by the content of their character, not the timepiece on their wrist. But human nature is what it is. Watch wearing is a both a personal pursuit and a spectator sport. Celebrity watch spotting is just a bit of harmless fun, right?

8 COMMENTS

  1. At least part of the appeal of Rolex or Omega is that they are “Bond”, “Astronaut”, “Paul Newman”, or “Steve McQueen” watches. If your brand picks up a nickname from an iconic celebrity, that has to be worth something.

  2. People wonder why luxury advertising is often targeted at audiences that cannot afford the particular good. It is because the point is not to sell to the luxury buyer directly, but to try give the luxury buyer confidence that people will respect their purchase.

    People are not going to buy the IWCxTop GunxTom Brady chronograph (which is technically inferior to a much less expensive Longines Spirit chronograph) because Tom Brady was paid to wear it. They are going to buy it because they think Tom Brady being paid to wear it will make their bros and the ladies at the bar think they have Tom Brady mojo when they wear it.

    That will fail when I say something like “hey, I see you have the watch Tom Brady is paid to wear, are you paid to wear it also?” But the hope from IWC and potential buyers is that it will work with other people.

    • I don’t think it works anything like how anybody thinks it works. You, me, IWC, Tom Brady and the sportsball fans. This really is a thing: a lot of moviegoers don’t understand why Spiderman and Captain America can’t be in a Justice League movie. Think about that. We’re at peak superhero. Stan Lee was, for the last twenty years, a celebrity outside the ever dwindling audience for Marvel comic books.

      I suspect a lot of people are going to look at that ad and think Brady likes to wear a really fancy Rolex, go into a store, and walk out with a Breitling.

      • I suspect a lot of people are going to look at that ad and think Brady likes to wear a really fancy Rolex, go into a store, and walk out with a Breitling.

        LOL! Funny and very likely true!

  3. The effect is two-fold. Celebs too swicth to higher-up brands because X wears one from the stable.
    As jay-Z says, “Bueller had a Muller, but I switched it for a Mille ’cause I’m richer”

  4. What’s this now, human psychology marketing and 101? Obviously that’s how it works. And how else would it, as long as we’re social creatures functioning based on hierarchy and competing for limited resources.
    The only way to be free of the rat race is not to participate. Sit on the sidelines working for free, complaining about rich people problems. 😀

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