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Exclusive products help bolster timepiece brand mythology

August 23, 2013


Luxury watchmakers may benefit from releasing exclusive products that elevate the brand's status among its competitors by highlighting history and expertise.

Exclusive products, that are either exclusive by quantity or purchase location, allow a brand to emphasize craftsmanship and generate attention for the brand in ways that other product releases cannot. Exclusive items often enable a physical interpretation of a brand's DNA for consumers looking to learn about a company's values.

“Exclusive products are a great addition to add brand allure," said Rony Zeidan, president and creative director of RO New York.

“Mass brands achieve that by having new deliveries in store very frequently, but luxury brands achieve it by working with exclusive product designs and exclusive distributions,” he said. “A product is never too rare - there is a customer for everything created.

“In the luxury category, it is beneficial to create unattainable products because it creates want and need even though you might not sell the item," he said.

“Everything is accessible, to someone at least.”

Exclusive desirables
When a brand produces a product in limited quantity, it bolsters brand mythology by emphasizing the expertise required by designers to design and create the product.

For consumers looking to purchase an uncommon piece of a brand’s history, exclusive and limited-edition products generally capture a brand's core aesthetics.

Watchmakers take into account the desire of collectors to own a rare piece of a favored brand’s history. There are ample periods and trends to draw from to create limited edition timepieces due to the long histories of many timepiece brands. 

Watch brand Jaeger-LeCoultre, for example, choose to celebrate its 180th anniversary through a limited edition 3-piece collection called Jubilee. The watchmaker is presenting the Jubilee collection during the Venice Film Festival, which it sponsors, to increase interest in the brand’s history.

As a way to play off of its anniversary, Jaeger-LeCoultre has only produced 180 of its Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Cylindrique à Quantième Perpétuel Jubilee timepiece (see story).

Master Grande Tradition Tourbillon Cylindrique à Quantième Perpétuel Jubilee

Watchmakers also benefit from creating annual series that attract watch enthusiasts while paying homage to innovations and watchmaking techniques.

For instance, each year since 2006 Swiss watchmaker Vacheron Constantin creates a new timepiece for its 50-piece Collection Excellence Platine series priced at $323,500.

The platinum-case Patrimony Traditionelle 14-Day Tourbillon was anticipated greatly among brand enthusiasts and timepiece collectors alike as the series is meant to pay homage to the mechanics of horology (see story).

Patrimony Traditionelle 14-Day Tourbillon

A brand is able to showcase the extent of its expertise through the release of exclusive products.

For instance, French glassmaker Lalique partnered with Swiss watchmaker Parmiagiani Fleurier to showcase its expertise and craftsmanship by creating a limited edition 15-Day Table Clock.

The crystal-glass clocks are so labor-intensive that Parmiagiani Fleurier can only produce five clocks per year, therefore elevating the exclusiveness of the product (see story).

15-Day Table Clock

Another bonus of exclusive products is the hype generated by the media.

“Creating exclusive products is a great way of creating a multi-tiered effect,” Mr. Zeidan said.

“This includes getting press attention, garnering a solid relationship with the stores selling those exclusive products and thus giving them a reason to market and promote to customers while reflecting newness and attention to detail on behalf of the brand,” he said.

Collectors item
The exclusiveness alone often warrants the purchase of a high-priced, limited-edition item.

“Exclusive products create an element of scarcity, which can enhance desire thus benefitting brand allure and the brand generally," said Marie Driscoll, CEO and chief consultant at Driscoll Advisors, New York.

“If a product is too rare and demand isn't fulfilled it doesn't hurt the brand, it more likely elevates it and changes your shopping behavior, so that you check in with the store, develop a relationship with sales associates or store managers, etc.," she said. “If you like the limited edition you won't wait to contemplate buying it if you think there's a chance you won't get it if you wait.

“Having a limited edition makes you feel special. This process gets the consumer more involved with the brand, supports an emotional connection and thus brand enthusiasts."

Final Take
Jen King, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York