“It’s how brands excite you as a customer but it’s also how they keep you.”
GQ: After the original backlash your technique endured, your embrace of personalisation has gone on to become a huge success. Where does the consumer’s thirst for this come from? GB: It happened in ’20s – everything was bespoke. You’d go to Louis Vuitton to get your trunk made for your travels. Suits, shirts, everything was bespoke. These days we all have our own individual style and we’ve all got our own thing that makes us ‘us’. Cars are becoming more personalised; companies like Bentley, Jaguar, Range Rover are doing individuality processes. So, my initial thought was why isn’t your watch a part of that? When you look at what magazines like GQ have done, they’ve given us our individual style. Why hasn’t the watch market done that? GQ: But thanks to a wake up call from you, the watch world has caught on. GB: Yes, now they’re doing it. Things like Hodinkee’s ‘Skipper’ collaborations and ‘Speedy Tuesday’ releases from Omega on Instagram have changed the whole demographic. I remember once I was so excited about buying a 1967 Heuer ‘Regatta Skipper’ model that I fell down the stairs in my boxer shorts.
GQ: Boxers then, not tighty-whities? GB: No, they were boxers! But I needed to buy that watch. You know, boom! That for me, is an instant thing. We’re direct to customer. We’re asking what colours customers like? The new green? Or more floral? Every luxury brand now offers personalisation. But 14 years ago they didn’t. GQ: Does there come a time where it’s too much?
GB: No, now it’s would you like your initials? Do you want this? Do you want that? It’s how brands excite you as a customer but it’s also how they keep you. You won’t sell it on, because it’s yours. GQ: And why has this trend grown so exponentially?
GB: We live in an Instagram generation so it’s something a lot of businesses are trying to figure out. How do you get customers back into understanding what they love? What we do know about that generation is their spend will come up. But for me and Jean-claude [Biver], it was more about knowing that they make an informed decision of what they want so we’ve got to interact in a better way. tagheuer.com; bamfordwatchdepartment.com
George Bamford and Jean-claude Biver on stage at this year’s Baselworld.