Saturday, 21 November 2015


Such a Supple Wrist

Luxury is one of those all-in words, meaning comfortable and expensive, and it’s impossible to achieve with just one of the aforesaid components. Most of us can’t afford luxury. Some of us aspire to luxury. A fortunate few revel indolently in luxury. Luxury thrives in both good times and bad times; it piggy-backs on booms and is immune to busts. The Platonic ideal of the machinations of capitalism is a luxury commodity that either must be consumed or will wear out, thereby necessitating replacements. Not one single person requires luxury in any of its many forms.

Sometimes luxury’s forms serve an antiquated function. The 21st century’s population has been penetrated by smartphones. Why would anyone except a fighter pilot or an undersea diver need or even want an archaic wristwatch? Because a chronograph Suisse (hiss it like a snake with a lisp) carries cachet in certain snobby circles, a subtle indicator to others of one’s wealth and taste. Recent print ads by a trio of premium watchmakers have struck me because of their absurd use of celebrity models. Each execution is intended to appeal to the worldly man they believe I dream of being. I mean, name one baby boomer who isn’t absolutely flush with cash to spend on feel good baubles.

The first ad I noticed made me do a double-take. The TAG Heuer creative featured a race car driver apparently adjusting an invisible watchstrap between his glove and the cuff of his fire-proof suit. I looked twice. The masked man was Steve McQueen, deceased since 1980. Apparently the chronograph kept on ticking. Dead celebrities are safer than live ones mainly because the brand doesn’t have to worry about their personal behaviour anymore. There’s virtually no risk in purchasing the discounted rights to a pop culture image from the estate – as tasteless as that may be. Did Steve McQeen even know or care about ‘Swiss avant-garde’ engineering during his lifetime?

Omega product placements have figured prominently in recent James Bond films. The brand’s current half-page ad featuring actor Daniel Craig as 007 wearing an Omega timepiece serves equally well as publicity for the SPECTRE installment to the franchise. It’s a bit like the play-within-the-play or peering down a colonnade of arches filled with mirrors. The subject is watches or current cinema, and both. The tag reads, ‘James Bond’s choice.’ Nothing rings truer than a product endorsement from a fictional assassin.

Breitling has been crafting ‘Instruments for Professionals’ since 1884. The headline of the brand’s full colour, full page ad reads, ‘Welcome to my world,’ all caps. I have never heard this phrase uttered in a positive manner. The inviter is a pasty, doughy John Travolta. The sleeves of his dress shirt are too long and so it’s impossible to know whether or not he’s actually sporting the famous Chronomat 44. And a rational person must ask a fair question: What exactly constitutes John Travolta’s world? Are we talking the cult of sci-fi pulp writer L. Ron Hubbard (‘The big money’s in religion.’)? Of thetans and Xenu, that evil galactic overlord? Maybe in Travolta’s world his film Battlefield Earth was unjustly savaged by critics and those unfortunates who paid to see it.

Three deluxe brands are attempting to sell me the same thing; something I don’t need but should aspire to, a tactile enhancement to my imagined social status and inflated self-esteem. And three deluxe brands trying to sell me something useless the same way, each one utilizing a meat puppet to persuade: one dead, one deadly and the other, dubious. The luxury I possess as a consumer is the ability to say, ‘No.’

No comments:

Post a Comment