How Omega and Swatch used industry marketing techniques to promote the MoonSwatch

How Omega and Swatch used industry marketing techniques to promote the MoonSwatch

Among the main things that infuriate watch lovers are replicas, fashion watches and battery-powered movements.

And yet the $260 Swatch tribute to the Omega Speedmaster that debuted a week ago and caused a commercial pandemonium checking out these three snobby boxes, making the collaboration an even more remarkable success.

From London to Berlin to Melbourne, eager shoppers meandered around city blocks, patiently queuing or pushing and shoving for hang a watch it’s not even limited.

The most buzzing and arguably most successful Swiss watch release in decades borrowed marketing and promotional techniques that, while new to the world of Swiss watches, are well used in the sneaker and fashion sectors. .

The so-called hype collaboration drops are old hat for brands such as Nike, Adidas and Supreme who have teamed up with high-end fashion houses ranging from Prada to Burberry to Balenciaga for collaborations that generate consumer buzz. and create long queues in stores or online traffic when they land.

Both sides stand to gain: Affordable brands get a pinch of haute couture stardust, while expensive partners can expand and often rejuvenate their customer base.

“This was a massive watch release that in many ways taps into the same currents and release tactics as mainstream streetwear and sneakers,” said Jesse Einhorn, an economist at the platform. online auction and trading platform StockX, which brings together buyers and sellers of footwear, streetwear and watches in the secondary market.

“This is an intentional brand strategy. With the Omega Swatch, it’s rare to see a watch release go so deep into the discourse.

The haute couture collaboration has been around for years, honed by a series of partnerships that Swedish discount retailer H&M has initiated with designer names such as Karl Lagerfeld, Versace and Stella McCartney. The risk remains that the novelty factor will quickly fade or that brands that fiercely protect their exclusivity and pricing power will cheapen their image. Indeed, the prices of Chanel and Hermès handbags have only increased in recent months, which has helped preserve their cachet.

The only scarcity factor for the so-called MoonSwatch is that it is available in Swatch boutiques but not online, although the watchmaker has promised to quickly replenish its stock and migrate to the internet at an unspecified future date. Both brands are owned by the same parent company, which facilitates their partnership.

Models with huge premiums quickly made their debut on resale sites. The MoonSwatch was the biggest watch release ever on the StockX platform in its first week, both in terms of trading volumes and premiums, the company said.

Prices averaged $824 on the site, more than three times the retail price Monday at 9:15 a.m. UAE time. More than 2,200 of the brightly colored watches that come in 11 different models have been sold, according to StockX. Influential bloggers on YouTube have posted dozens of videos giving their take on a bioceramic plastic version of the Speedmaster Professional, known for being the watch worn by American astronauts on the moon.

Waiting lists are common for wanted watches, but physical lines outside stores have so far eluded the industry. Where there was hype, there was more around special or limited edition stalwarts like Rolex or Patek Philippe that aren’t for the masses.

Rolex’s steel sports watches are notoriously hard to find at retail and can sell for three or four times more in secondary markets than in stores. Patek-Philippe cannot keep any of its Nautilus model watches and chairman Thierry Stern told Swiss newspaper Le Temps last week that he was receiving up to 100 emails a week from customers desperate for a Nautilus.

The Patek Philippe Tiffany Blue Nautilus watch sold for $6.5 million at an auction in New York.  Photo: Patek Philippe

Around the same time as Swatch’s Omega coup was taking place, Rolex and Patek were among manufacturers showcasing their latest models at Watches and Wonders in Geneva, a distinguished event attracting 20,000 people checking out minor updates of certain models that have not been radically revised. in 20 years or more.

Swatch and its brands – including Breguet, Longines and Blancpain – are not participating in the show, which is organized by rival Richemont, the maker of Cartier watches, Vacheron Constantin and Jaeger-LeCoultre, among others.

No matter. The MoonSwatch stole the show for an event where watches priced over 500,000 Swiss francs ($539,875) traditionally debut.

The launch of MoonSwatch comes as the Swiss industry has seen a tentative rebound after a pandemic-induced sales crash in 2020. Still, the return has been tempered with caution as Chinese tourists have not returned to Europe in sufficient numbers. to boost sales, and traffic at airports – where Swatch has many of its stores – remained below pre-pandemic levels.

Omega has long honed its marketing pitch as the watch of choice for aspiring astronauts and the world’s favorite secret agent, James Bond. Swatch, on the other hand, struggled to maintain its iconoclastic image, having already earned credit for saving and reviving the Swiss watch industry from the so-called quartz crisis of the 1970s with its colorful and cheap designs. .

The plastic Swatch was once a worldwide phenomenon with customers flocking to stores in search of new releases. But that was in the 1980s and 1990s. Lately, smartwatches and fitness bands have become the most common wrist accessory. In fact, Swiss quartz watch exports fell to a 38-year low in 2021, according to trade statistics.

“It’s time for Swatch Group to invent something new and exciting for its eponymous brand,” Bernstein analyst Luca Solca said.

Updated: April 04, 2022, 07:41