Selling your Soul to the "Bling"

Audemars Piguet has gone a long way since the introduction of the Royal Oak in 1972. Revolutionary in every aspect, the Oak was first to brake the mold with a hi-end/high-cost steel sports watch. Further ahead came the OffShore, and broke the 42 mm barrier. All of us said that nobody would go for that size, it just seemed excessive at the time.

Today many manufacturers (yes, even Patek) have turned to pray to the "God of Bling"... and what seems worse, if you don't, you are in imminent danger of closing down your factory. There have always been markets in demand for diamonds and gold. When a "New Rich" market matured, another came along and picket up the torch. First the Middle East, then Russia and now the Far East. That is no news, what is news is that the latest trend in the US (considered a mature market in the eyes of many) is the "Bling-Factor". Diamonds and oversize timepieces are a growing trend that is starting to penetrate even Europe, manly through the UK. Trend setters like Beckham, Paris Hilton, Jay-Lo, 50 cent, no mater if you like them or not, dictate what is "IN". Many of them promote lifestyles of excess that most people don't share or understand. We all relate in one way or another with the things we buy and image is an important factor in our final choice of purchase. Because trends come and go, will it affect a company and its perception in the years to come? Or can this be fixed by sponsoring an obscure "Tree Foundation" or maybe even some distant "Natural Reserve" further down the line?

So, is AP's move to sign an influential hip/hop Singer/Composer wrong? Will this be a turnoff for many diehard/loyal AP followers? Quite a bold move to go from Nick Faldo and Kasparov to Jay-Z if you ask me... Maybe watches should not be related to people at all.

Time will tell.

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