Market research by the likes of Nokia pointed out that a large number of people no longer have a watch, but instead use their mobile phone, so watch brands rely on increasingly emotional brand.
“It’s important for your watch to be stylish and reflect your personality because you really don’t need one any more as everyone has cell phones” – Popbitch attributed this to Omega ambassador Cindy Crawford.
Part of the emotional hold is the creation of a totem object and Omega has some of these:
- The Omega Speedmaster: the ultimate adventure watch since it was the only watch worn on the moon. Whilst you can still get a watch that approximates to the original Speedmaster very closely, the format of the watch has gone through so many derivations of design and limited editions (more akin to sister-brand Swatch) that it is hard as an outsider to know what the watch actually stands for anymore. The authenticity has been buried in a blaze of limited editions and variations
- The Omega Seamaster Ploprof: Omega’s deep-sea dive watch that they’ve resurrected after three decades. A relatively unknown design classic that is all about pushing the limits in deep sea diving. However this is a crowded space with Blancpain’s 500 fathoms, Rolex’s Sea-Dweller and Sea-Dweller Deepsea to name but a few having an equally valid heritage of technical diving
- The standard Seamaster has undergone too many changes to really have a ‘classic’ design, with the Planet Ocean it is still too early to tell: again obstificating an authentic design classic through endless limited edition permutations
The unique co-axial movements that now goes into many Omega watches is an admirable piece of horological design, but most of its customers will be more worried about how their timepiece looks.
Contrast this with Rolex were change happens at a more considered pace and there is a clear lineage for instance between the Submariner series, the Sea-Dweller and the Sea-Dweller Deepsea.
Then there is Omega ambassador programme:
- China is the largest marketplace at the moment in the luxury brand space, yet they only have one Chinese ambassador, film star Zhang Ziyi. There are no Chinese sportstars, musicians or business people listed at all
- Of the sportstars that they do have in their ambassador programme; the most prominent is controversial stoner swimming star Michael Phelps. Brand Republic’s Celebrity Sellout blog says how ridiculous this is, far better than I can.
Given the resurgence in watch brands over the past decade competing for the luxury consumer, shouldn’t Omega up its game?
I had been thinking about getting an Omega for a while, technical watches are an expensive vice of mine: I don’t drink and I don’t smoke, so I justify these watches as my personal indulgence.
My Dad has always worn an Omega since before I was born and my Grandad had one when he was alive, but its not the technical timekeeping instrument brand that my family wore now. I’ve never brought a modern Omega myself, instead I have gone for Rolex and IWC Schaffhausen respectively as the brand didn’t seem relevant to me, in the same that it had been to my Dad.
For me Omega feels like a brand in trouble, its really a question of what they do next. I hope they get their act together soon and find their centre as a yoga teacher would say, as I would like to carry on the family tradition in wearing an Omega watch.