Brand Communication

When a good story is worth millions

There are expensive watches. There are cheap watches. But what is a watch really worth? For the magazine of our client Zeit Zone Zürich, we researched the value of a watch and a watch brand. It was impressive to see how values can skyrocket through good storytelling or emotional experiences.

The 1968 Rolex Daytona Cosmograph, with its steel case, silver dial, plexi crystal and manual winding, is, from today’s point of view, rather mediocre. Only this one example belonged to Paul Newman, film legend and racing driver. And on the back of the watch, his wife Joanne Woodward admonished her husband with an engraving: “Drive carefully. Me”. With a story like that, the watch is worth a little more. Last October, a collector paid 17.8 million dollars for it at an auction in New York. The highest price ever paid for a wristwatch at auction. It’s impressive, but when you think of art auctions and the sums on offer, it’s not really surprising. The starting price for the auction has already been set at $10 million. But what is really exciting is how even relatively simple and inexpensive watches can become sought-after collector’s items over the years. For example, a Heuer from the 1970s that sold for 600 francs five years ago sold for 5,000 francs and now sells for over 20,000 francs.

But what touches the watchmakers at Zeit Zone Zürich even more is the emotional value that a watch can have through personal experience. A few months ago, a customer was leaving the workshop on Kreuzplatz. A scream was heard outside the door. Worried about the customer, the owner and managing director Sandro Bösch went to the door and asked if everything was all right. The customer said everything was fine. He let out a squeal of delight, just happy to have his beloved watch running again. His watch is a simple quartz watch that needed a new battery.

Another customer came to Zeit Zone Zürich with a pocket watch that had been rusting away in the basement for 20 years. The watch was in poor condition. The watchmakers told him that an overhaul would require at least 30 hours of work and would therefore cost more than buying a comparable watch on the vintage market. Nevertheless, the client insisted on the overhaul. The watch had been in the family since the turn of the century. The owner had forgotten about it in the cellar and only remembered it when he had to decide what to give his son as a wedding present. So he searched the cellar and found the pocket watch, which had meant nothing to him for 20 years, but suddenly meant everything to him. The beauty of watches is that they are always silent witnesses to great experiences. Whether as a gift to mark a milestone in life or the completion of a course of study, as a reward for earning one’s first salary or signing a major contract, or as a token of love from a partner. Zeit Zone Zürich is constantly reminded of how relative the material value of a watch can be. And for its watchmakers, it is an enriching experience to learn about the life moments that customers inextricably associate with their timepieces.

Zeit Zone Zürich

With Zeit Zone Zürich, the watchmaker’s workshop at Kreuzplatz 2 in Zurich, watchmaker Sandro Bösch fulfilled his wish in 2003 to pursue the art of watchmaking with a dedicated team in his own workshop. On the lively Kreuzplatz, he not only found space for a workshop, but also a salon on the first floor where he can take time for his customers in a pleasant atmosphere. Heads Corporate Branding has been supporting Zeit Zone Zurich in brand management and communication for three years.

— Heads / 17.5.2019