Consumption in the times of quarantine
We expected the usual: the pandemic was supposed to turn out to be a great chance for the return to normality because, as prognosed by Lidewij Edelkoort, one of world’s most famous trend researchers (who advised multiple brands, including Coca-Cola, Estée Lauder, Galeries Lafayette, Cerruti, Rubelli, Ermenegildo Zegna, Shiseido and Seiko in the watch industry), the virus would lead to the development of an alternative and entirely different world. We were supposed to learn once again how does it feel to be happy when you “have one dress only” because – as Edelkoort promised – coronavirus was supposed to cause the “quarantine of consumption”.
After a few months, what do we have left of these visions? Not much, as we can already see. In the watch industry, the “quarantine of consumption” came to an end along with Rolex’s presentation of the new collection.
The very same presentation that was not supposed to happen, since Rolex announced that it would show all its new propositions next year. As we can see, the decision has been changed and come September, Internet connections and phones around the globe worked into frenzy when various websites and social media channels were flooded with first photos of a new version of the famous Submariner. The watch, which was advertised as “the diver’s friend” at its official premiere in 1954, very quickly became the “friend” of, i.a., James Bond, Ernesto “Che” Guevara, Fidel Castro, Steve McQueen and quite a number of anonymous maniacs. Shortly before the pandemic this model was so popular that one had to get on a waiting list and then wait patiently for a call from the distributor. As we can see, neither any virus nor economic unrest affected it.
It has been said for quite some time that the Submariner would be redesigned, but still – this year’s premiere was truly a surprise. We already know that the watch is available in eight versions and judging by the clients’ first reactions it’s bound to become Rolex’s next best-selling model. From what I have learned, apparently the so-called Kermit stirs up excitement the most. The Kermit is a stainless steel version with a large green bezel and a black dial, whose design resembles the jubilee model that was prepared for the Submariner’s 50th anniversary in 2003. Back then the green bezel was made of aluminium – right now it is manufactured from ceramic, a material resistant to scratches and corrosion.
At first glance, the new Submariner looks exactly the same as the previous versions, but a trained eye will notice every difference – even the slightest one. For example – a new case was designed. Right now it’s one millimeter larger (with a diameter of 41 mm), while the band is one millimeter wider. And now, for the element that fascinates every watch aficionado the most, a completely new movement (3235 calibre version with date and day) that the company had submitted 14 patents for. I won’t go into technical details of the movement here, as every person interested will analyse them thoroughly on their own, but I have to at least mention the power reserve that went up to 70 hours and the incredible accuracy of -2 to +2 seconds per day.
Most of Rolex’s clients don’t bother to check such technical details, so only the most devoted enthusiasts carry on conversations regarding the energy-saving Chronoenergy escapement. If we asked the owners of the new Submariner about the precise differences between this version and the previous one, most of them surely wouldn’t have any idea about them.
So what is behind the success of the Submariner and other models of the brand?
According to the rule followed by Rolex, every new model is a technically superior version of its predecessor (the following are far more important than the appearance: precision, reliability and longevity of a watch). It’s all because the company takes utmost care to ensure the consistency of its “dynasties” and does not experiment with design (which is an added value of the brand’s watches). So when we compare the new Submariner with its first version from the 1950s, we can see that they look almost identical. And as it turns out, it’s the consistency and continuity that appeal to Rolex’s enthusiasts the most. That’s why the company does not fear crises, be it smaller or bigger, as the interest in the brand does not fade even in hard times.
This is also shown by the ongoing global recession that has forced the customers to make more conscious purchases, that is choosing whatever is more durable, high-quality and, most importantly, timeless. That’s why the “quarantine of consumption” announced by Lidewij Edelkoort won’t even affect Rolex. After the recent lockdown lift the brand’s distributors are approached by numerous clients that get on the waiting list despite the recession, hoping that one day they will get the Kermit at a retail price (EUR 9,250), as speculators sell it at a whopping price that exceeds EUR 23,000.