Luxury brands thrive on their association with the rich, famous and prestigious. It’s why Chopard sponsor the Cannes Film Festival, why Roger Federer pops a gold Rolex on before he lifts the Wimbledon Trophy and why Grey Goose Vodka is an official partner of Virgin Galactic – because what would be more at home in a space shuttle than hard liquor.
It’s also why, despite James Bond being associated with brands like Omega and Aston Martin, Daniel Craig was seen sipping Heineken at various points in Skyfall. If the idea of 007 necking a generic-tasting continental lager straight from the bottle like he’s attending a damp British BBQ on a Saturday afternoon seems incongruous, then factor in the reported $45million they paid for the association.
Product placements, sponsorships, endorsements – luxury brands spend billions every year just to associate with the likes of David Beckham, Scarlett Johansson and Jennifer Lawrence – with good reason, no-one spends £20,000 just to tell the time, they’re buying exclusivity – and what’s more exclusive than being a world-famous, attractive, rich celebrity?
In fact the real art behind building a successful luxury brand is not just producing very high quality products – that’s a given – it’s about how well you can position your brand to ensure people believe that associating with you is associating with luxury and exclusivity. With that in mind we’ve taken a look at the top watch brands and the stars and events with which they associate.
The Rolex Submariner seems to be a real favourite amongst action movie characters – actor Jeremy Renner wore one in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, Jack Bauer sported one in the first, and best, season of 24 and by Denzel Washington in Courage Under Fire. They’ve also been worn by legends of the silver screen such as Michael Caine (Get Carter), Steve McQueen (The Hunter) and Burt Lancaster (Scorpio).
Rolex are the ‘official timekeeper’ of Wimbledon, the ‘official timepiece’ of Formula 1 and sponsor several yachting competitions including the “Rolex Swan Cup”. They also sponsor explorations – both underwater and mountaineering – associating watches like the Oyster Perpetual Explorer II with adventure and achievement. Rolex also run mentoring schemes and run an entrepreneur award scheme, recognising people all over the world who have excelled in particular fields.
As we covered in our blog post on the watches of James Bond – 007 has favoured Omega brand watches since Pierce Brosnan took over the role after previously wearing a Rolex. Typically he has worn an Omega Seamaster – which also happens to be the watch of choice for the billionaire with an acquired taste – Christian Grey (50 Shades of Grey). Don Draper was spotted wearing an Omega Seamaster DeVille in 70s advertising drama Mad Men and is in esteemed company – both George Clooney (Up in the Air) and Al Pacino (Scarface) have worn Omegas on-screen.
Omega’s most prestigious sports endorsement is as the official timekeeper of the Olympic games, both winter and summer versions – this began in 1932 and continues to this day.
Cartier have made appearances in a host of Hollywood films, as you’d expect, from Clear and Present Danger to the most recent adaptation of The Great Gatsby starring Leonard DiCaprio, they also featured heavily in Netflix’s hit series ‘House of Cards’.
But perhaps their most prestigious associations have been with some of the world’s most influential women – Jackie Kennedy sported a Cartier Tank in an iconic 1964 photoshoot, a gift from her late husband JFK. Princess Caroline of Monaco favours Cartier as does the Duchess of Cambridge – who was seen wearing a Cartier Ballon Bleu during her 2014 Royal visit to Australia. Michelle Obama gave priceless prestige to the brand by wearing a Cartier watch while sitting for her official First Lady portrait in 2009 – described by then CEO of Cartier Frédéric de Narp, as a “most positive surprise”.
Not all luxury brands are keen to dive into the world of sports and movies to promote their brands – elite watchmakers like Patek and Breguet opt to become partners with institutes of high culture – such as the Opera National de Paris or the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Setting their sights on customers with an exquisite taste in the arts as well as timepieces.