One of the most difficult things for any watch lover to admit is the desire for other people to notice, and in many instances recognize, the watch he or she is wearing. The notion comes eerily close to unadulterated vanity and pride, which is a sentiment few people want to readily admit to. The more noble stance people suggest for their choice of watch is much more personal, and oftentimes you’ll hear reasons such as “I wear watches that I like because I personally see value in them.” That is rarely entirely untrue, but it would be naive to remove the “status” element of status symbols.
As much as it pains me to say so, I agree that today “nobody needs wrist watches.” It is true, we don’t. Needing a wrist watch implies that the wearer relies upon the functionality it delivers from a utilitarian standpoint (i.e., to know the time). We live in a society filled with clocks and the time everywhere. Whereas people once relied on their personal wrist watches to tell the time, between their other devices and the world around them, few people need a watch to know the time today. So then why do people wear a watch today?
This is a larger topic that I can’t fully cover in a few statements, but most people agree it is both to communicate something about the wearer and to make the wearer feel something. In many instances that can be as simple as the wearer appreciates the design and construction of the watch, and wearing it makes the wearer feel as though it communicates both taste and success. Thus watches are things we want to wear, not something we need to wear.
Going back to the discussion of brand identification, the question is how important it is for you that people recognize the watch brand you are wearing. Rolex is perhaps the golden example of this because the notion around the world is that if someone sees a Rolex on wrist it communicates a certain level of wealth and achieved success in life. This is especially true among people who are familiar with luxury brands but not necessary watch brands.
So, as a watch lover, why do you prefer to wear one brand over another? There are some watch collectors who focus exclusively on design without even a minor consideration of brand. This, I propose, represents a minority of people who exist on one extreme side of the spectrum. On the opposite side of that spectrum are people who are exclusively interested in being associated with a brand. These people are almost totally concerned with wearing a particular brand, and the technical or design merits of a watch aren’t important to them (so long as the right brand name is present). This, of course, represents the other side of the “I care about brands” spectrum. So where along the spectrum do you lay?
Considering how important a watch brand is to you is a good exercise in understanding your own tastes and preferences. I will admit that I am sensitive to brand, but only secondary to design. I would say that brand awareness is perhaps the 5th or 6th item on a list of things I look for, but it is certainly a point of consideration. In fact, in my unique experience being a part of the watch industry media, I often consider that, “based on what I know about this brand and how well we get along, do I want to wear their product?” True enough, as attractive as brands can be, sometimes a negative experience with a brand will cause the brand name to be a “rejection factor,” meaning that a consumer will sometimes not wear a watch simply because of a prior negative experience with that brand.
The question you need to ask yourself is how important it is that onlookers recognize the watch brand you are wearing. Of course, not everyone is going to be familiar with watch brands (given how niche so many of them are), but the query here is how much you subjectively want them to notice or be curious about the brands you are wearing. Knowing this will help you as a watch lover understand more about the choices you make, as well as what you want your watch’s relationship to be with the world around you. Thanks for offering your comments below and participating in the poll.