On noble pedigree
Over the last several years, mechanical watches have become a luxury item, which is why well-known brands have been in a way forced to employ a younger generation of marketing and PR specialists, whose main task was to develop new ways of communicating with the media to match their elite products. The terms such as “mechanical watch” or “factory” are gradually disappearing from press releases, and therefore, from various media outlets, as they sound too plain and would not fit into the new luxury world. Media (with very few exceptions) also have taken part in this game, which is why the texts published quickly filled with terms that promise the promotion to a better world. Therefore, instead of: “watch”, “Uhr” or “montre” descriptions include: “timepiece”, “Zeitmesser” and “horloge” (these are examples taken from only three languages; however, the action is global). But that is not the end of it. Although in some articles, readers can find the words such as “watch” because authors of texts have to use them to avoid repetitions (as of yet, no other synonyms have been created), some phrases have almost entirely disappeared from publications. For example, “factory” has been blacklisted, so you will no longer find this word in any model descriptions or the history of major watch brands. Why? The “timepieces” are so noble that they are now produced in “workshops”. The word “factory” sounds too common and is associated with workers covered with grease (or possibly with the production of cheap watches in Asia) rather than luxury crafts. Even though it was once the workshop that was synonymous with hard work and primitive conditions, and the factory with modernity, at the time of revival of mechanical watches, PR specialists decided that “workshop” sounds much better. They explained to the manufacturers that “workshop”, combined with the brand name, is an indication of the company’s noble pedigree, and they took it at face value.
Journalists were next in line: they regularly received press materials containing descriptions prepared by Public Relations departments or PR agencies and quoted them without a second thought. This process takes so long that the newspapers have become permanently full of meaningless slogans.
I experienced this firsthand when, a few years ago, one of the lifestyle newspapers (my apologies, “newspaper” sounds too plain, I should have used the word “magazine”) tasked me with writing a report on my visit to a new watch factory (as the owner himself called it). Before my text was published, one of the editors contacted me and asked me to replace “factory” in my article with “some nicer word”. I replied that I had used it intentionally because even the owner of the company I visited referred to it in this way. And, surprised, I added that I did not see the need to change it. What did I hear in response? A brief explanation that the word “factory” does not match the magazine’s profile, so I have to remove it from the text. From this example, you can see that everybody (including the manufacturers) fell into the trap and became prisoners of lofty but artificial slogans.
Therefore, according to the currently prevailing communication codes, some timepieces are “cult” and some are acclaimed as “icons”. To help customers make their purchase decisions, PR specialists share secret knowledge of the brand DNA with selected media outlets. Every self-respecting brand now operates in line with its DNA, whose code was discovered only with the recurring fashion for mechanical watches, that is in the 1990s. Previously, “researchers” did not have such “excellent” methods, so no one has heard about brand DNA.
PR and marketing specialists are therefore facing a very difficult task today: to reach the secrets that have not been discovered yet. That is why they are digging through company archives like archaeologists of the ancient Egypt. We learn about their “discoveries” later from press releases, in which the words “tradition” and “innovation” must appear in one sentence (as we know, opposites attract). Texts filled with trendy slogans are tailored to an increasingly younger customer, who uses poorer and poorer vocabulary. A sign of the times. Besides, most luxury brands (not only those in the watch industry) do not care about elite thinking, but above all else, sales supported by online reach. In turn, what is becoming the real luxury is the curiosity and hunger for knowledge of customers, who prefer espresso to instant coffee.