When Watch Hype Makes Sense — James Bond And His Omega Seamaster Plus Other Hits And Misses
Merriam-Webster’s definition of a perfect storm is “a critical or disastrous situation created by a powerful concurrence of factors.” That sounds bad. And if you saw Wolfgang Petersen’s biographical disaster movie The Perfect Storm, you know what it literally does and means. The term “perfect storm” was first used in 1998, and besides being used for catastrophic situations, it can also apply to something that works out extremely well. A perfect storm is when hype makes sense, you could say — like James Bond wearing his Omega Seamaster 300M 007 Edition in No Time To Die. The man, the myth, the movie, and the watch together created the perfect storm.
I started with a definition from Merriam-Webster, and here’s another one. Hype is “promotional publicity of an extravagant or contrived kind.” That sounds about right. The word “hype” has a negative connotation, especially when the promotional message contains misleading claims. To me, hype, in the context of watches, is more about a situation or state I would describe as “hype-notizing” — see what I did there? Let me present you with an example. A CEO announces the discontinuation of a certain watch model that’s already in (too) popular demand.
… an observer of this “hype-notizing” spectacle can only conclude it witnessed a perfect storm.
Soon after his announcement, the same model in an atypical dial color comes out and causes the market to heat up even more. And not much later, when a limited edition in collaboration with another legendary brand is announced, the market is in such a raging state of frenzy, observers of this “hype-notizing” spectacle can only conclude they witnessed a perfect storm.
James Bond Wearing his Omega Seamaster — wearing the hype in a perfect storm
I’m sure you guessed the brand and the watches I described. When crucial elements like scarcity, over-exposure, and high demand cause mass hysteria, you could categorize them as the ingredients for a perfect storm or hype. But hype is not always a bad thing. Let’s take the example of James Bond wearing his Omega Seamaster 300M 007 Edition in the 2021 movie release No Time To Die. Bond began wearing Omega in 1995, and over time, the combination of 007 and watch brand has become something like a fact of life. COVID-19 messed up a lot of things, and movie releases were among them. Initially, No Time To Die was going to hit movie theaters in November 2019. And that’s why in the same period, Omega launched the Seamaster 300M 007 Edition, the titanium watch co-styled by actor Daniel Craig for his final appearance as 007.
A 42mm perfect storm
The pandemic ended up delaying the release of No Time To Die until the last day of September 2021. But the talk about the release of the film had been in the news for almost two years. And while this was happening, the non-limited 42mm Seamaster 300M 007 Edition (€9,100 on a bracelet, €8,100 on a NATO strap) was in stores and doing well. The combination of high-tech titanium, retro elements, as well as the familiar Seamaster 300M looks was an instant hit. The grade 2 titanium Seamaster, the odd one out in the collection, gets every detail right. From the surprising and stunning Milanese bracelet in titanium to the very cool NATO strap option and the numbers on the case back which follow the format for genuine military-issue watches. To many, the watch itself is a perfect storm already.
The watch, the hero, the actor, the movie
When No Time To Die finally came out, the expectations were high — very high. But the movie did not disappoint. Far from it; it received raving reviews. And even regular, non-007-fan movie-goers who just were glad they could go to a cinema again liked it. It was also the moment when the watch, the hero, the actor, and the movie (finally) all came together. But the “promotional publicity of an extravagant kind” didn’t lead to a hollow hype. Instead, both the watch and the movie delivered.
As Hannibal from the A-Team famously said, “I love it when a plan comes together.”
The quality of the hyped products created a magical moment where everything was in sync. As Hannibal from the A-Team famously said, “I love it when a plan comes together.” At a point, Omega had to work hard to meet demand, and even though the Seamaster 300M 007 Edition had already been out for about a year and a half, after the release of the movie, sales surged again.
Ethan Hawke, no, wait, Ethan Hunt!
You would think that a successful movie franchise like Mission: Impossible would be able to pull off the same strategy to great success. But it hasn’t, and there are many possible explanations why. One I think of is the fact that James Bond is a character developed in writing. The 007 books and movies have appealed to different generations. Bond is a worldwide cultural phenomenon. Based on a television series from the 1960s and ’70s with the same name, Mission: Impossible is a series of six films with two more on the horizon. The genre is the same as Bond — a lot of action and stunts and high-tech spy stuff — and even the music theme is as recognizable as the James Bond theme. But when I asked myself out loud what the name is of the main protagonist, I mistakenly said Ethan Hawke and not Ethan Hunt.
A spy moonshining as a brand ambassador
“Bond, James Bond” is a line everyone knows. It’s more than a quote. It’s cultural heritage. When you hear it in a movie, and even when you say it to yourself in the mirror, the words transmit feeling. The fact that a fictional character can remain relevant for so many decades is an interesting phenomenon. After big boss Nicolas G. Hayek ordered the rejuvenation of Omega, it was very smart of Jean-Claude Biver to use James Bond as a brand ambassador. And once Omega started, it never stopped. The brand’s consistency has created a fact-of-life kind of partnership. That’s another thing you don’t get with Mission: Impossible. Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt just isn’t consistent when it comes to the watches he wears. Another thing to consider is that no matter who plays Bond, he is Bond. But someone other than Tom Cruise playing Ethan Hunt would most likely not work.
So many movies, so many watches
I’ve seen Ethan Hunt hanging on to planes and buildings for dear life wearing different G-Shock watches. And in Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol (2011) the Tudor Heritage Chronograph was on his wrist.
… Ethan Hunt didn’t make Tudor his watch of choice.
But instead of marking that as the starting point of a fruitful corporation that would benefit both the movie franchise and the ambitious watch brand, Ethan Hunt didn’t make Tudor his watch of choice. And so you could also see him wearing a Tissot T-Touch Expert Solar at some point. I can’t help but wonder what he will be wearing in Mission: Impossible 7, which is set to open in September 2022, and Mission: Impossible 8, scheduled for July 2023.
Another missed opportunity to create a perfect storm occurred when Max Verstappen grabbed the Formula 1 world title. The TAG Heuer partnership with Red Bull Racing and its drivers is a solid and successful one. The first three special Max Verstappen watches quickly sold out. The first one celebrated him as the youngest Grand Prix winner ever. Now he’s the world champion, and maybe I’m impatient, but shouldn’t TAG Heuer have had a special edition at the ready as soon as Verstappen climbed the podium in Abu Dhabi? It could have been a special version of the 2021 Monaco Titan Special Edition he wore a lot during the season. The “Max Mania” in the Netherlands alone — caused by, amongst other things, the “hype-notizing” television coverage on the Ziggo channel — would have made that watch a success. The Dutch are frugal, but also not insensitive to hype, especially the F1 fans.
Hypebeast × Timex hits the spot
I can’t leave you without mentioning Hypebeast, an online phenomenon that started as an underground blog covering sneaker releases back in 2005. Kevin Ma’s blog rapidly grew and gained international acclaim. Nowadays, the blog is a fully-fledged media site that doesn’t limit itself to just sneakers but also covers a wide range of aspects of fashion and culture. And when Hypebeast says product X is cool, it is cool, period. The readers of the blog and its 10 million Instagram followers use the content as a (style) guide. And with the Hypebeast × Timex M79 “Fuchsia” Automatic Watch, the media outlet hit the sweet spot. The 500 watches, priced at $299 USD, match affordability with the trend of retro styling and fans’ desire to buy the right stuff from the right place. As a result, the watch sold out in a heartbeat.
You don’t always have to believe the hype — Public Enemy warned you about that in 1988. But sometimes, when a brand not only talks the talk but also walks the walk, the hype is real. And when the “hype-notizing” is over, you are left with a perfect and future-proof product. Like the Omega Seamaster 300M 007 Edition, indeed.
Please find and follow me at Lex Stolk • Instagram