As I mentioned last month, I've been looking for a new watch recently, and I finally settled in a Stowa Flieger Klassik 40 Ikarus. It's a beautiful object, and I love it. The brand was recommended to me by Olly Smith when we were recently on the road for our podcast.
Whereas previously I had tried to find a watch primarily by looking on retailer websites, having a personal recommendation from a friend had a much stronger resonance. In fact, Olly recommended a few other brands, all of which I looked into.
However, once I'd narrowed down by options according to affordability (my budget is still in the lower end of the spectrum for watches), I then read up on the heritage and values of the company.
I found out that the company made watches for German fighter pilots. I read about the action that they use in various different models - some made in-house, others are from the ubiquitous ETA. I learned about the details of the watch - why there is a triangle with two dots in place of the 12 (to help pilots orient themselves when flying at night!), about the type of luminous paint they used, about the different straps - I became fixated.
This is the all-important story - the thing that is so vital to making an emotional connection and converting a browser into a buyer. It's something that wine trade does with mixed results. A company like Penfolds are masters of disseminating their story, as our the big champagne houses. For some producers (such as DRC), the legends are created around them, rather than directly by them.
There are many ways in which watches and wine aren't a great comparison - but there's no question that marketing is something that can really makes a difference, and shouldn't be automatically disparaged as somehow dishonest or distasteful. The wine industry needs to be proactive about seeking and persuading new drinkers to fall in love with this wonderful drink - and learning lessons from other industries is a good way to do that.