But for its first 20 years, the campaign was exclusively about fathers and sons. Women, says Delaney, were initially totally uninterested in seeing themselves reflected as part of this elegant, monochrome family. “When we first asked women, they didn’t like the idea of not owning their watches. They said ‘actually, I do own it and I’m not that interested in giving it away.'”
Patek Philippe Ladies Launch: Twenty~4 Automatic
It takes an awful lot to cut through the white noise of advertising – a talking meercat can do it, and so can a restless monster under the bed, given enough Christmas frenzy. But what have meercats to do with insurance, or an insomniac Big Foot with John Lewis?
Testament to the success of the ‘You never actually own a Patek Philippe, you merely look after it for the next generation’ tagline is the fact that it has been running for 22 years.
“How do you sell a $25,000 watch when people can buy an accurate one for $10?” asked Tim Calkins professor of marketing at Kellogg School of Management. “You do it by pointing out that a Patek isn’t a device for telling time, it’s an heirloom that transfers values across generations… It’s the ringing truth behind the slogan that has lasted two decades.”
“This is not like other companies,” confirms Tim Delaney, chairman of Leagas Delaney the advertising agency that came up with the campaign all those years ago. “It’s a family company and has different values and different behaviours and can do things differently. The advert hits home because it’s emotional,” he continues. “Most advertising is a big watch and a famous person’s face. This is the only ad that focuses on emotion.”
It was only two or three years ago that independent research found that female Patek owners were ready to recognise themselves as the custodian of a watch for their daughter rather than its proud possessor themselves.
Times change, and by 2016, women, in the beautifully shot black-and-white campaigns by the likes of Glen Luchford and Peter Lindbergh, were blowing dandelion clocks and bubbles, and lounging in ball dresses on aubusson carpets and getting ready to hand their Golden Ellipse and Annual Calendar timepieces on to their girls.
But the Swiss house’s latest women’s watch called for a new approach. “This is a product for a modern, highly capable, independent person,” says Delaney. “It talks to a woman about herself and her feelings. She’s doing a job and holding down all sorts of different elements of life.” Most of the women in the previous adverts – though by no means all – were in motherly or even grandmotherly mode.
The new advert, revealed last night at a gala dinner in Milan, is for the Twenty-4 Automatic and shows a woman striding through various Roman landmarks.
She strolls through a drinks reception at a palazzo with a dashing swain, shops on Via Condotti, walks through the Villa Borghese with a girl who might be her daughter and a dog, strides boiler-suited through a very Gattaca-style office, browses in an art gallery and lounges through a light-filled apartment before heading for an outdoor café in Piazza della Repubblica wearing sequins. It’s a pretty busy day in what is clearly a full-on life, but the woman’s never less than poised… well, she knows she’s on time for everything, doesn’t she?
The campaign was directed by Anton Corbjin who is more used to shooting music videos for U2 and Coldplay but, says Delaney, “the advert is about a desire to respect the audience and celebrate with them, not bombard them. The woman here is fortunate yet grateful and ambitious for what’s next for her. It’s certainly not a Trumpian view of women.”
Though it feels like it’ll be quite a while before this go-getter feels relaxed enough about missing the odd rendez-vous to hand this timepiece over to the daughter with the dog.
Article written by Sasha Slater, The Telegraph