Guest Post - For the first time on MIB, a post not written by yours truly, but by a guest author, conveniently also called Alex. Alex is no stranger to this blog, having already been interviewed by the other Alex (still following?) a few months ago. A Speedmaster collector himself, Alex shares some extremely thoughtful insights on what makes the MoonSwatch so special across generations, between past, present and future. Alex, the floor is yours!
An accessible response to the expectations of our times…
Since its launch 2 months ago, we’ve heard and read just about everything regarding this collaboration between Omega and Swatch. Many love it, some hate it, others are dubious, and as always some are speculating. I might, provokingly, add that the ones who “hate” it in fact love the watch but are frustrated not to have one and/or are are simply taking a highbrow posture against the crowd.
One thing though that cannot be ignored is the emotional impact of the launch. The buzz no one saw coming will be remembered for many years to come and inspire marketers around the world. The MoonSwatch is a pop, fresh, provoking response to the often elitist world of watchmaking. It’s the positive message we all needed after Covid.
The global enthusiasm gathering tens of thousands of us for a bioceramic, quartz, not connected watch in 2022 is pretty remarkable. Perhaps we are all more "connected" than we think to this watch, and the brand that produced it?
The intergenerational baton
My generation, and by that I mean those of us born in the late 70s or in the 80s, is the original Swatch generation. We all have a memory, an event associated with the brand, a summer with a Scuba on the wrist. We are the generation that gifts a Flik Flak to their kid to teach them to tell time. We know how it goes: start with a Flik Flak and who knows where it ends? We are also the generation that still dreams of spatial conquest, with Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong or Michael Collins as the heroes of its golden age.
But for a brand like Omega, how long can such memories be leaned into? What is the right way to speak to new generations, to catch their attention with messages that truly resonate? What is the path to connecting the new crowd to watchmaking, mechanical watchmaking, real watches that tick with hands? The MoonSwatch may very well be this much needed intergenerational baton!
Well before the MoonSwatch but not so long ago, Swatch was perceived as trendy, colourful and cool. It was hard to walk out of a shop without something, a Flik Flak for the kids, a Gent skinned by a pop artist, or, for the more savvy, a Sistem51. But let’s be honest, over the past few years, to many of us, Swatch lost a fair share of the vibe. And they probably realised it. But that did not tell Swatch how to reinvent itself, without betraying its DNA.
The customer base was still there. Attached to the brand, at times nostalgic, but now looking elsewhere, whether high end watchmaking or telling time on their smartphone (the two are not mutually exclusive!). Something had to reignite its interest: an event, or, even better, a watch, bringing the past to the future, the memory to real life. The MoonSwatch is it. The MoonSwatch bridges the gap. It reunites generation X, millennials, gen Z, and the next generation, let’s call it… Omega, just because!
Veterans will find in it the original, unapologetic Swatch spirit. Connoisseurs recognise details previously reserved to Speedmasters (such as the nods to the Alaska Project in Mission to Mars). And the younger crowd discovers a fun object, opening them into the worlds of watchmaking and Omega.
In a way, the MoonSwatch in 2022 does what the Swatch did in the 80s: preparing the future. Today's youngsters won't forget their first MoonSwatch and what they felt when they first put it on. For those among them who decide to upgrade several years later and enter the world of mechanical watchmaking, the Speedmaster will undoubtedly be ideally positioned among their options.
Making the Speedmaster even cooler
The Speedmaster can't forever live off its heritage from the 60s. It needs to anchor itself into the 21st century, become part of the Mars conquest, for instance, and more generally enrich its history with contemporary events. Via Swatch, it has just been through a makeover! It attracts youths who don't identify with 1960s astronauts but simply want to live, today, with a watch that is not only legendary but also just cool.
Some feared the MoonSwatch would be a threat to the Speedmater. Quite the opposite. I have reliably been told that Speedmaster sales further jumped since the MoonSwatch was launched, with a younger crowd visiting Omega boutiques.
The MoonSwatch desacralised a luxury brand by making it accessible in a fun way. As someone from Omega mentioned to me, the MoonSwatch also annihilated fake Speedmasters because it is itself in a way, a legal replica! Now we are even seeing fake MoonSwatches appearing online…
To wrap up…
With the MoonSwatch collaboration, Swatch succeeded in making a mark in the minds of millions, regardless of their cultural background, age, gender or horological savviness. This is quite exceptional at a time when Swiss watch exports are dropping in volume, driven exclusively by the growing value of high end pieces for a happy few, with so many others turning to the smartwatch.
Beyond the buzz, the MoonSwatch has put Swatch back on the watchmaking map and paved a very bright future for Omega. Will the theory hold? Let's discuss in 20 years!