Alittle bit more than 20 years ago, Patek Philippe launched a bold advertising campaign with the message, “You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely look after it for the next generation.” This campaign, probably one of the most iconic in the watch industry next to Omega’s “Choice” testimonial ads, was created by a London-based advertising agency called Leagas Delaney. Its founder, Tim Delaney, who has been described as one of the world’s best copywriters, has worked on brands including Harrods, Timberland, Hyundai and Adidas and at some time even acted as an advisor to British Prime Minister Jim Callaghan. Tim Delaney believes that “everything has a story to tell” and has made it his mission to write it.
I was fortunate to work for Leagas Delaney in London in 1995, which was not only my first professional interaction with the watch industry, but most importantly a unique opportunity to learn firsthand what it meant to be working for someone “unnaturally curious.”
But the Patek Philippe campaign not only shows how important the right story can be, it also shows that great ideas need time and continuity. If Patek Philippe had not been this courageous or didn’t use the same message consistently for so long, the impact would probably have been very different.
The same goes for watches. There is a reason why models like the Speedmaster, Submariner, Reverso or Royal Oak are so successful: they not only have a great story to tell, they also have been around for quite some time (which, of course, is the main reason there are so many stories linked to them).
The 27th edition of SIHH, which also happened to be the first watch show in 2017, demonstrated that many of the larger brands are returning to their core values and their icons. Cartier, for example, reduced the number of novelties by half and focused on one if its all-time classics, the Panthère. Girardperregaux brought back the Laureato, IWC the Davinci, and Audemars Piguet focused on the Royal Oak.
The next generation of watchmakers, the smaller and more independent brands, however, most of whom were located in the “Carré des Horlogers,” seem to continue being “unnaturally curious” in order to appeal to a different target group. But thanks to Patek Philippe and Leagas Delaney, every watch buyer probably instinctively thinks about the next generation when buying an instrument that tells so much more than just time.
A watch that is guaranteed to look very different to future generations is Tudor’s Black Bay with a case made of bronze. Mark Bernardo and Martina Richter both extensively tested the latest version of Tudor’s popular dive-watch model for this issue. We also had the chance to test the Seamaster Planet Ocean Chronograph from Omega, the brand’s first chronograph to earn certification as a Master Chronometer. And we compare pilots’ watches from IWC and Breitling as well as chronographs from Alpina, Bell & Ross and Union Glashütte.
Speaking of flying: in this issue, we also take you to Seiko’s main production facilities for Grand Seikos in Japan, where we found out what Shinji Hattori’s, president and chief executive of Seiko and the great grandson of Seiko’s founder, favorite watch is.