FOLLOW THAT STAR
Zenith is on the brink of celebrating 150 years of rich horological history, but Plaza Watch finds a brand doing all it can to accelerate into the future.
As Zenith approaches a milestone 150 year anniversary, the brand celebrates the past but looks firmly to the future.
It’s October 14th, 2012, and the world collectively holds its breath as a man clad in a white pressure suit edges towards the lip of a capsule suspended 24 miles above the Earth’s surface. He stands on its small exterior platform and pauses – we all take in the enormity of the moment. And with the words “I’m coming home now,” he steps off and begins to plummet with terrifying speed, hurtling towards the ground at 843.6 mph, to become the first person to break the sound barrier with the human body.
The daredevil is of course renowned skydiver and base jumper Felix Baumgartner, doing his bit to impress the hell out of us in Red Bull’s Stratos project. Although the globally streamed event officially belonged to the energy drink and title sponsor, there was another name quietly sharing the branding limelight. In elegant capitals on the capsule, and across Baumgartner’s pressure suit and equipment, Zenith’s logo was positioned with almost scene-stealing clarity – its star motif appearing so perfectly appropriate in this leap from the edge of space. You have to wonder how they managed the coup of achieving such visual parity in a stunt that was owned and masterminded by another brand?
It’s a moment that Jean-Frederic Dufour, CEO of Zenith, recalls with obvious pleasure. “Sometimes when you do sponsorship and you get a good relationship you can manage things which were not necessarily scheduled by the centimetre and by the inch contractually. We had a very good relationship with Red Bull – and of course the whole thing was called Red Bull, but we also wanted to have our brand visible. It was a long process of education and meetings and in the end we got what we wanted.”
Yet involvement in the stunt was not without risk. In a heart-in-mouth moment, an audibly rattled Baumgartner went into a prolonged, nauseainducing spin that threatened the very likely possibility of him passing out prior to deploying his parachute. Wasn’t there a chance that Zenith could
The capsule that suspended Baumgartner at t h e ed g e o f s pac e.