time-keeper


The watch that doesn’t exist (yet)

OPINION

Español
October 2019


The watch that doesn't exist (yet)

Today, it is possible to launch a brand without even having the actual watch on your wrist. From the 1990s onward, the arrival of 3D computer-generated images went hand in hand with the emergence of “storytelling". Welcome to the world of virtual watches!

W

hen 3D computer-generated images of watches first appeared, we took the decision not to publish any watch that was not already genuinely produced “in the real world”. Synthesised images – too facile, we thought! You have to start by creating something real, then showing what you’ve really produced. Otherwise, anything is possible – or seems to be. We can start selling digital air.

Needless to say, we were very soon overtaken by events... The quality of these images made up solely of pixels improved at an astounding pace. And the day we realised that, despite due examination, we had published a watch that existed only on someone’s hard disc, we told ourselves that a new era had begun. Welcome to the world of virtual watches.

When 3D computer-generated images of watches first appeared, we took the decision not to publish any watch that was not already genuinely produced “in the real world”. Needless to say, we were very soon overtaken by events...

Today, it is possible to launch a brand without even having the actual watch on your wrist. From the 1990s onward, this technological evolution went hand in hand with the emergence of “storytelling”, a marketing – and management – method which, according to Stephen Denning, who expounded the theory in his book “The Secret Language of Leadership”, is based on the following triad: “Get attention, elicit desire and then (only in the final stage), convince with the use of reasoned argument.”

For that, virtual imagery seems tailor-made. First of all, get attention with a totally new, virtual shape, a shape tantalising enough to elicit a desire for change and then, after this “emotional” approach, and only as a final resort, advance concrete arguments to convince. Talk about the quality of the movement, the beautiful finishing, the hand-crafting; boast rupture while respecting tradition, invent manufactures, exhume ancestors. In short, build an entire story around the 3D image.

The watchmaking industry has been transformed into a storytelling jungle. Authentic stories, part-inventions, untruths and barefaced falsehoods exist side by side in the grand circus of digital communications.

The watchmaking industry has been transformed into a storytelling jungle. Authentic stories, part-inventions, untruths and barefaced falsehoods exist side by side in the grand circus of digital communications. Today, a watch itself is not enough. It has to be accompanied by a story, and the story has to be thought through from the outset. The story of the watch that does not yet exist is now a pre-requisite, a tool serving the virtual image which is in the process of being created. The details of the design of a given timepiece have to echo the story, provide material corroboration of it.

In this context, the task of the journalist is to sort the wheat from the chaff, check the facts, set the record straight. A difficult and delicate task, but crucial at a time when real watches and watches that are purely virtual or in the process of becoming a reality inhabit the same space somewhere in the same grand watchmaking cloud. This is exactly what is happening in the nebulous world of Kickstarter. It is full of promises, some of which will be fulfilled and others which might just as easily end up in the digital dust of oblivion.

Discover the next generation of promising watchmakers and their timepieces in the new Europa Star issue and online in October and November 2019.