August 10, 2021
by Ariel Adams
Switzerland-based Bomberg watches knows how to make a wrist statement, and the BB-01 Cure The BullDog is no exception. This is the brand’s first foray into creating a wristwatch for cannabis enthusiasts, and it is an interesting design exercise mixed with the politics and trends of our time. Bomberg is not the first watchmaker to create a cannabis-themed timepiece — nor will it be the last — and it is interesting to see how designers tackle the challenge of combining a passion for timepieces and the fast-growing international cannabis market.
The reason this topic is so important for marketers, in my opinion, is that I believe the “watches and weed” market will be just as large as those for watches and alcohol, as well as tobacco. For years, watchmakers have recognized that people who enjoy “the good life” also enjoy timepieces. Dozens of successful relationships between watch and alcohol or cigar makers have been demonstrated, and there is a distinct overlapping of these worlds of enthusiasm. Cannabis is the next logical area for such passions to overlap, and I fully see the watch industry embracing groups of cannabis enthusiasts in a similar manner as they have embraced alcohol and tobacco enthusiast groups. That said, the world isn’t entirely ready.
From my vantage point in Los Angeles, California, hemp and marijuana (both cannabis plants) are about as controversial as Swiss cheese, at this point. Recreational marijuana is legal here, as is the case in at least a dozen other U.S. states. That does not, however, represent the larger worldview about cannabis, where the plant is both still illegal and stigmatized in various parts of the world. The international nature of wristwatch sales means that brands that sell their products around the world need to contend with often polarizing opinions about products. I can easily see how a watch brand that produces a marijuana-enthusiast watch can garner as much hate as it does love, given how perceptions about the plant vary from place to place.
Bomberg’s solution to this tricky diplomacy problem is a sort of tongue-in-cheek approach to building its first cannabis-themed product. It eschews the notion of marijuana altogether by positioning the BB-01 Cure The BullDog as a Hemp and CBD-themed product. Hemp does not contain as much THC (the chemical responsible for much of marijuana’s psychoactive effects) as marijuana. Both hemp and marijuana contain CBD, which, unlike THC, enjoys far greater legality around the world. The seemingly random “Cure the BullDog” name is actually just Bomberg being playful with what “CBD” might stand for aside from “cannabidiol.” This is evidence of the fact that even mention of CBD and cannabis in certain parts of the world is so taboo that Bomberg can’t just call this watch the “BB-01 Hemp” or “Cannabis.”
CBD is, nevertheless, legal in many places where THC is not, and this includes parts of Europe, such as Switzerland, to my understanding. Even though Bomberg appears to be taking a bold design decision by having a cannabis leaf on the dial of its watch, the hemp plant inspiration of the timepiece is much more readily accepted than the marijuana plant leaf, which the dial visual also implies.
Hemp is a valuable crop because, in addition to the burgeoning market for CBD oils, hemp has long been used as a textile. The BB-01 Cure the BullDog watch case is attached to a hemp fabric strap from material that was grown in Nevada. It has a canvas-style look, but to the touch, it is much softer. The yellow, red, and green outer stitching are colors long associated with the hemp-enthusiast culture.
The BB-01 watch dial and case are an interesting design exercise in how to appeal to a cannabis-friendly market. It does make sense that people can simultaneously enjoy watches and cannabis. How they want to appreciate cannabis in a wristwatch is a different story altogether. Bomberg takes a classic approach, which is to create a sort of cannabis lover’s novelty watch. The steel case is 43mm-wide and water-resistant to 50 meters. It is the same as other Bomberg BB-01 collection watches, but it happens to have laser-engraved cannabis Indica leaves on it, making a pattern effect.
Another leaf motif is, front and center, the main shape on the dial, which is a complex creation of colors, skeletonization, and actual green crumbled cannabis leaf sprinkled into a semi-transparent layer. The compulsion to include cannabis (either actually or symbolically) is very strong. Indeed, a lot of the cannabis-themed watches that will be made will focus on the hemp/marijuana leaf since it is among the more recognizable allusions to cannabinoid pursuits, hence why it is predictable that a designer would also want to further connect the watch with its sometimes-illict cannabis-consumption theme.
The outer watch dial matches the colors of the straps and is offers traditional wristwatch functionality and legibility. In addition to the luminant on the hands, Bomberg applies luminant to the outline of the cannabis leaf, which makes for a fun effect. Over the dial is an AR-coated sapphire crystal, and another crystal is over the caseback with a view of the Swiss Made Sellita SW200 automatic movement (which operates at 4Hz with about two days of power reserve).
Bomberg is merely dabbling in the world of cannabis-themed watches with the BB01 Cure the BullDog watches with a set of just 250 pieces. I have a feeling they will sell out in due course. More likely is that, the next time around, Bomberg or someone else who was emboldened by the release of products like it will go even further with the cannabis theme and ideally continue to explore creative directions to combine wristwatches and the quickly emerging global hobby. Price for the Bomberg reference CT43ASS.30-1.11 BB-01 Cure the BullDog automatic watch is 1,950 Swiss Francs. Learn more at the Bomberg watches website here.