For one century, the fine watchmaking industry has been connected to sport events. For a few decades, partnerships have been multiplying intensively with the following sport disciplines: tennis, horse riding, motor and marine sports. It is no surprise, as the fine watchmaking brands and these disciplines share common values like elegance, accuracy, perfection and sophistication. These partnerships are also a way for the watchmaking brands to get known. The choice of the partner is thus essential and depends partly on the social and professional groups it can attract. It is the main reason why football, considered as too popular, did not interest fine watchmaking brands for a long time. The last but not the least benefit, in having a sponsorship, enable brands to launch their special limited edition during special events or to celebrate a partnership or a victory.
Sponsoring has thus become an essential point of brands’ marketing strategy: it is all about choosing the good partners which will fit with the brand image, promote the story-telling, and increase emotion around the brand.
For instance, Richard Mille, watchmaking brand created in 2001, chose to work with nautical sports. In 2006, it became the official timekeeper of the Perini Navi Cup and since 2010 it has been the partner of Les Voiles de Saint Barth. It is no surprise as he claims he likes sailing: “I have always been fascinated by the sea. Sailboats are splendid gears. Their technicality is not so far from that of the modern watchmaking especially that of my watches combining design, innovative materials and robustness”. He thus launched several timepieces for marine navigation, and chose the ideal discipline to create his story-telling and promote his brand.
RM 028 in tribute to Les Voiles de Saint Barth, Credit: L’Equipe Sport&Style
For few years, some fine watchmaking brands have been trying to differentiate and innovate by choosing less elitist competitions, but which can today attract a potential interesting clientele. For instance, Montblanc created a partnership with the Badminton Worldwide Champion, Lin Dan, to bring out its Timewalker Pythagore Ultralight. This was a relevant marketing choice to target Chinese people, as Badminton is one their favourite sport. Longines has targeted a sliding sport since 2006 and become the official sponsor and timekeeper of the Downhill Ski World Cup FIS.