ince 2018 Thomas Campion has been busy with The Swiss Hour, a platform for the different actors in the Swiss watch ecosystem, from clients to suppliers, retailers and brands. These different people get together to share their experiences at the events he regularly organises – often opportunities to discover a particular brand.
Makers including Armin Strom, Chronoswiss, Laurent Ferrier and HYT, as well as marketplaces such as Watchfinder & Co. and WatchBox, have already called on his “good offices” to manage tailor-made events. With this experience under his belt, Thomas Campion has extended his services to include communication and strategy consulting. Read on for our interview.
Europa Star: What was the thinking behind The Swiss Hour?
Thomas Campion: When I arrived in Switzerland from France in 2017, to handle communication for various brands, I expected the home of watches to have a watch collectors’ club. Which it didn’t, despite the fact that clubs of this type were appearing in countries around the world. I also discovered that many brands weren’t that familiar with their end customers and that they didn’t really organise tours. This led me to launch The Swiss Hour, as a way to bring the watch ecosystem together and help it move away from its silo mentality, where everyone knows everyone else without necessarily talking to each other.
The situation has changed considerably since then, with the rise in direct-to-consumer and of course the pandemic.
That’s right. There have been changes and for the better. Brands are more open to their end customers and more willing to say who their suppliers are. My response has been to offer new consulting services. The smaller brands, the ones that are in the process of expanding, are especially interested in connecting with their home market of Switzerland. We’ve become an important partner for these brands which don’t necessarily have much global visibility. We provide a full set of services, from content creation to managing communication and events.
“I launched The Swiss Hour to help the industry move away from its silo mentality, where everyone knows everyone else but they don’t always talk to each other.”
- Thomas Campion, founder of The Swiss Hour
How many events have you organised so far?
A dozen, bearing in mind that we were on hold during the pandemic, each with between 100 and 150 guests. This year we’ll be developing a premium membership offer with special benefits. Some companies prefer to organise smaller events for a select audience. Auctions are a particularly promising area for our business. We aim to expand internationally, too.
Looking back, what would you say has changed about the way brands communicate?
The cost of digital campaigns has skyrocketed and it’s becoming more and more difficult to reach a qualified audience. It’s a problem a lot of brands are facing and they’re coming to us for advice. It can be more beneficial these days to work with “micro-influencers” who provide better content for a smaller following. It’s the old “quality versus quantity” debate.
How are you different from other collectors’ clubs?
We reach out to the entire watchmaking ecosystem; not just the end customers but suppliers too, for example. Also, our service doesn’t end when the event ends: we saw that some brands weren’t following up with attendees when it’s rare to strike up a relationship right away. It takes time, and so we continue to advise brands after their event, too.
“The cost of digital campaigns has skyrocketed and it’s becoming more and more difficult to reach a qualified audience. It’s a problem a lot of brands are facing and they’re coming to us for advice.”