Emotionally relevant by Lex Stolk
How relevant is a mechanical watch? This question can be answered from a functional standpoint and from an emotional one. My highly accurate computer tells me it’s 13:31, no need to look at my left wrist, so I will focus on the emotional question. Haute horlogerie is all about emotion. Confidence and credibility mostly. If someone is spending a substantial amount of money on a luxury product that has a delicate balance between practical functionality and price, that person must see value and have faith in the product and the story behind it.
And there is a story behind every watch. Take modern day pilot’s watches for instance. At first these watches were made to be functional timing instruments and used as such. Later on pilot’s watches were introduced to civilians carrying the original functions. Have a look at the complex slide rule on the Breitling Navitimer for instance. Can you imagine pilots back in those days used these watches to calculate vital flight information? Same goes for the IWC Ingenieur. This watch was first introduced in 1955 as a civilian version of the Mark XI pilot’s watch. No word though about the adventurous roots in the very first advertisements for the watch. Advertisements praised the watch as a problem-free and accurate companion.
Back in those days there simply was no need for an emotional story, it was all about functionality. Everything is turned around now. Watches are being presented as being a vital part of an exciting universe. The completely updated Ingenieur collection was presented in a look-alike pit box of the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula 1 team as the watch for the modern man who loves speed and technology. One look at a recent Breitling Navitimer advertisement appeals to the fearless flying ace that hides in almost every man.
Modern day watches are no longer modestly presented as functional timekeeping tools; a watch today functions as a platform to express emotion, to tell a story about aeroplanes and the brave pilots flying them or fearless drivers of high-tech race cars. Emotion has gone way beyond functionality. Far beyond. But it all started with the relevant story of functionality. If that story is right it can sure paint a pretty heroic picture now. Can you feel it?
The international editor-in-chief of 00/24 WatchWorld and 00/24 Horloges likes watches, but is even more interested in the stories watches tell us.