I went to the New York Auto Show about 7 years ago and I saw Mazda’s concept car for their new design philosophy. The crazy curves and clumpy styling made it look like a station wagon. I remember having one thought. I hate it. It was just too much, way over the top and not my style at all. Fast forward 5 years and I own a Mazda based on that design. What changed? I hated it and now I own it? That makes no sense. Mazda refined the design, most likely from customer feedback and focus groups and made it into a car that still looks good years later. But what would have happened if I was told I wasn’t allowed to hate it? I had to accept the design they put out as canon and that was the final word. I wouldn’t have bought one if that was the case. So, why are watches any different? If a watch brand puts out a design and an individual or the collective soul of the watch community hates it, why do media outlets criticize us for it?
Given the timeline in which this is being written, a week or so after SIHH you can probably guess the watches I am talking about. If you can’t, I’m referencing the Audemars Piguet CODE 1159 watches and movements that were released at SIHH 2019. The first media outlet I remember breaking the news of the release was HODINKEE. Being a leader in the watch media world, it makes sense that most people would get this news from them. Understandably so, the general feeling towards these watches and the related comments were posted on HODINKEE’s comment section in the articles they wrote. To put it lightly, the hate was real. Comments led to memes and gifs mocking the watches. Everything from Daniel Wellington logos slapped on the dial to calling the watches an amalgamation of mall brand watches were out in full force within hours of the release. To be fair to AP, the hate was more directed toward one of the watches in the collection, the three hander.
I don’t intend to stomp on AP throughout this entire post, but it brings me to why we hated it. We heard how AP spent years developing this watch. The applied logo alone took two years to get right. With that kind of background, I think the community was expecting something more. The new in house movements developed by AP are definitely cool, but that three hander felt uninspired.
Blunders Occur in Every Industry
Fast forward to present day. Media outlets which shall remain unnamed are now criticizing the watch community for their hate toward these watches. The general feel I got was that the watch community was unwarranted in our distaste for the watches and that our hive mind did not allow us to see past a few comments on a website. I found this to be offensive. Just because it has AP on the dial doesn’t mean it is an automatic success and a work of art. When Ford debuted the Pinto in the early 1970s, Ford was one of the biggest names in the auto industry. They were a power house not to be reckoned with. The Pinto changed that. It was universally hated and has gone down as one of the worst flops in automotive history. I’m not saying the CODE 1159 watches are going to be a flop. The way the luxury watch world works, I honestly don’t think it is possible. The hatred the Pinto received led Ford to go back to the drawing board and create some of the coolest cars of the 1970s.
It’s perfectly fine for a community to not like something. Whether it is a car, a watch or a phone. The community will eventually vote with their wallet and combined with the ease of communication consumers have with brands, those brands get that feedback much quicker. It forces these brands to improve upon their original design and put out a product the community will love. Don’t let anyone influence your feelings toward a product that you are going to spend your money on. That goes both ways, just because everyone else hates something doesn’t mean you can’t form your own opinion. Voice your opinions because even if you aren’t going to buy that product, it might help shape the trends and design philosophy of other brands in that industry.
One last word to the media outlets that told us our opinions were wrong – don’t let your relationships and time spent with a brand influence your own opinions of a product. We rely on you for honest advice and feedback regarding these products. We might not ever get to see them before purchasing and your honest feedback can help us feel more confident in our decisions.