Building Community Among Watch Collectors

The watch collectors’ community is broad, diverse and growing.

In recent years, the watch collectors’ community has managed to shake off its stodgy, exclusive image, transforming into a buzzing community of likeminded, passionate enthusiasts eager to share their mutual love of horology, blogs luxury watch dealer Paul Altieri, founder and CEO of Bob’s Watches. He says the best thing about the watch-collecting trend is that it’s far more inclusive, attracting a much younger, more fun, and extremely well-informed crowd.

It’s a trend that started in the last quarter century, as the worldwide adoption of the Internet linked people from every walk of life and corner of the globe, eager to learn from each other and share knowledge of their own love of watches, says Altieri, describing the explosion of social media sites for watch collectors and the horology community in general as “a Godsend.”

Instagram remains the most widely used platform for information, says Altieri. But Twitter is also efficient in its use of hashtags that makes it easy to find or start a discussion on a topic and follow and connect with others to hear what they have to say. He cites YouTube as a booming platform in watch communities, with horology-focused videos.

Analytics = Useful Data
Brands like Citizen Watch understand the value of building community with its collectors. Even before the pandemic hit, the brand was building its digital first mindset, embracing the digital tools available to be accessible in the many ways consumers want to engage today.

Recently, Citizen announced a partnership with Amperity, the leading customer data platform, to propel the brand’s ongoing commitment to deliver a personalized digital customer experience.

“Building on our understanding of who our customers are and the brand experience journey they take, allows us to better serve them across our portfolio of brands,” explains Jeffrey Cohen, president of the watch brand. “Integrating our first-party data into the Amperity CDP (consumer data platform) has allowed us to extend the unparalleled customer service and experience we’ve delivered for over 100 years.”

Working within a unified system enables Citizen to create more streamlined efficiencies and provide a holistic 360° view of future and existing customers, according to a company statement. Adapting a data first approach, positions the brand to engage in deeper, more relevant and tailored communications, and better target marketing that will enhance acquisition, retention and loyalty.

Retailers should dive right into the digital communications and creative assets that brands like Citizen provide them, integrating these tools into their own email and social media programs to reach current and prospective customers.

To that point, the Citizen Watch Group (including Citizen, Bulova, Accutron, Alpina, and Frederique Constant) announced last November that it joined The BIG Network. Through retail participation in The BIG Network, vendors can obtain sales and inventory information, help replenish stock faster, bill for sold memo inventory, and stock balance non-performing items in a more proactive manner. The service, which is free for retailers, enables them to work more collaboratively with vendors and gain valuable insights into what is selling and proactively help manage non-performing inventory.

Online Tools
Ellen Seckler, CMO of Citizen Watch America, underscored in a Plumb Club podcast the importance of saving and storing digital content that makes it accessible for all. “Metadata is how search engines find content, so it’s really important to have some kind of management solution that provides a systematic approach to efficiently storing, organizing, managing, retrieving, and distributing an organization’s digital assets.”

An exciting byproduct of consumers doing research online is the fact that consumers are clicking on a lot of different designs and links, so brands have more opportunities to gather information on what they are and aren’t interested in, Tyler Harris, an associate partner at McKinsey & Co., shared in a recent podcast for the research firm. “You have more ‘fingerprints’ and more history from a consumer’s digital shopping, than you do if someone walks in a store and walks right back out.”

A second exciting thing online is virtual try-on, cheers Harris. “There’s a lot of talk about it, but it’s still largely in test mode, so the verdict isn’t fully in on it. But we have seen instances where if someone has tried on, for example, two or three pairs of earrings virtually, they are twice as likely to make a purchase than someone who hasn’t done virtual try-on. So, there is evidence that try-on has legs, and — particularly in a post-COVID-19 world where folks are much more conscientious about health and hygiene and trying things on — there could be something really interesting there.”

Shared Interests
The Citizen Watch Group, and its brands including Bulova, builds community among its watch collectors in so many ways. Citizen, for example has a long list of global brand ambassadors in a wide range of sports and activities. The watchmaker also enjoys a diverse and broad fan base that Disney and its brands like Star Wars and Marvel can bring to the watchmaker.

“We’re not just selling watches; we’re selling stories,” says Cohen. “We want people to enjoy our products and be proud of what they’re wearing.”

Moreover, sustainability is bringing people together, and Citizen’s latest “Purposeful Power” campaign is asking its customers to think about power differently, says Cohen, noting that the target audience is younger generations.

To boost the campaign’s message, Citizen is working with influential names such as sustainable stylist Cassandra Dittmer, professional basketball player CJ McCollum, and Emmy-nominated Uncharted Waters host Peter Miller to highlight the importance of Purposeful Power. But is also profiling everyday people changing the world in extraordinary ways in 60-second documentaries. Its most recent feature fashion eco-brand designer Gina Stovall, creative conservationist Asher Jay, and sustainable designer and architect Alejandro D’Acosta.

While Bulova’s “Bold at Heart” campaign centers on following one’s passion, despite the odds. “Bulova epitomizes radical authenticity, ingenuity and a constant curiosity to pave the way for the future,” describes Cohen. “Our latest campaign captures this spirit that resonates with our multigenerational customer.”

Moreover, Bulova’s latest collaboration with the lifestyle metaverse marketplace D-CAVE in its new Computron LED watches opens the brand to the gaming and new digitally minded community. A special edition of the watch comes with an NFT drop that will let buyers wear a digital version of it in the Decentraland Metaverse platform.

“We are very excited to have the opportunity to work on an iconic item like Bulova’s Computron and re-interpret it in a futuristic way, bridging the original physical item to its new virtual version,” Stefano Rosso, founder and CEO of D-CAVE told the men’s lifestyle platform HYPEBEAST. “Metaverse is not a trend, it is a new way of living. Our physical life is and will be more and more integrated with our digital life. And as in real life we want to express who we are also through the brands we love, the same will happen in the metaverse.”