Grinding Gears: How to create a 'Hot Watch'

 

Just as celebrities have their 'It Girls' and fashion has its 'must-haves', the field of timekeeping has its 'hot watches'. timepieces that, seemingly from nowhere, spring onto the mass consciousness and become incredibly cool, incredibly quickly. The Piaget Polo, the Cartier Crash, and early Franck Muller — in recent years, all these (admittedly excellent) watches have been plucked from relative obscurity and thrust, seemingly by chance, onto the pedestal of fame and fortune. Except — and here's the industry secret — it's no accident. Come with us as a Grinding Gears investigates the murky corridors of horological power in search of the backroom deals that determine what watches come hot.

TAG Heuer x Kith Formula 1.jpg
TAG Heuer x Kith Formula 1.jpg

TAG Heuer x Kith Formula

TAG Heuer x Kith Formula

First of all, you need to find a watch that fits the formula that is not yet hot, or at least hasn't been hot for a decade or so. But it's not enough to pick any random round dive watch — you need a watch with a little spice. If a watch has a famous historical wearer, a funky shape or colour, and maybe a story that a marketing department can twist into a tale worth telling, you're in with a shot.

Early Franck Muller Chronograph.jpg
Early Franck Muller Chronograph.jpg

Early Franck Muller Chronograph

Early Franck Muller Chronograph

Now, the next step is arguably the most important. If you're a watch brand, you want to quietly let it be known that you're interested in this historic model. Buy up some good examples, make sure an ambassador is seen wearing one on the red carpet, and casually tease an upcoming re-edition to some select watch media. None of this is hard in and of itself; the trick is to not push it too hard and keep it subtle (something marketing departments are not known for). The other real trick is to get the timing right. When done well, this sort of groundswell should appear organic, and the inevitable reissue is the result of 'listening to the community.'

Piaget Polo 79.jpg
Piaget Polo 79.jpg

Piaget Polo 79

Piaget Polo 79

If the watch brand has succeeded at step two, step three should sell itself. Dealers will start hoarding and hyping historic models, maybe bidding up their own examples in prominent auctions to set a new benchmark. That one guy on Instagram who's loved the design since the start will suddenly find his humble collection popping off, and he'll be reframed as an expert, maybe even invited to check out the manufacture, or get a profile on a prominent site. By the end of this phase, success looks like every two-bit frat bro watch collector claiming this obscure and initially unsuccessful release has always been a 'grail', alongside a light and breezy mention in a trend list on GQ or similar.

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