Why Do Comic Book Super-Heroes Never Have Time for Watches?

Breitling Emergency on Tanguy LaverdureEvery time a watch brand lands a deal with an actor or a studio, and every time a watch is prominently featured on screen, the online watch community immediately recognizes and responds to it. We know exactly which star wears what watch model — and also which ones immediately change their preferred watch brand as soon as the shooting is over. Of course, most of us can spot it if an actor wears a fake, regardless of how beautiful she looks next to Nathan Fillion and his Omega DeVille. But it seems that a hero has to be “real” to draw interest from the watch industry.

Allow me to explain what I mean. As a huge fan of comics and graphic novels, I rarely see anything that tells time on the wrist of a comic book hero – a fictional character that I usually have a much longer and intimate relationship than with any movie star playing that character. I basically grew up with Tintin, Asterix, Spider-Man, Batman, and other such icons. I lived in the Marvel and DC Universes for a considerable amount of time during my youth, I witnessed the rise of Image Comics, and I consider myself an honorary “Watchman” in every way possible. I also know that I was not the only one who made regular visits to the Far Side. But despite the huge influence and circulation of graphic novels (and let’s not even start with all the anime in Japan), the watch industry seems to ignore this entire segment of literature, while continuing to pursue product placement not only in films but occasionally in books and even in computer games (e.g., James Bond’s Omega Seamaster 300 in “GoldenEye 007” for the Nintendo 64) — not to mention some toys, if you remember our last article on that topic.

Linde Werdelin did at least use a graphic novel-style visual approach for one of its an ad campaigns a couple of years back, but in the sense of a proper product placement, we longtime fans now face the strange situation that we know that Robert Downey Jr. wears a Jaeger-LeCoultre as Tony Stark/Iron Man, but we have no idea not what the original Tony Stark — the one in the comics — wears on his wrist.

Robert Downey with JLC Amvox

One of the few exceptions: Tanguy and Laverdure, a French/Belgian comic about the adventures of two military pilots that was first published in 1961. In one of the more recent stories, a Breitling Emergency is introduced into the story, though the brand isn’t mentioned by name. Imagine how easy, comparatively cheap, and — most of all — unbelievable cool it would have been for a brand like Breitling to throw their support behind the great artist(s) behind the comic in exchange for this exposure. Or if IWC, for instance, convinced Buck Danny (another military flying ace character from a Franco-Belgian comics series) to wear a proper pilots’ watch. It certainly would not require super powers to do a deal like that… and none of the heroes would switch to a different brand after the bad guys were defeated.

Breitling Emergency on Tanguy Laverdure
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  1. Oscar DeBarge

    Because most comic book superheroes would probably wear digital watches. Peter Parker? A $30 Casio. A reporter like Clark Kent? The most expensive watch he would wear would be a Seiko 5. Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark? A pretend playboy and a real one would only wear expensive flashy watches.

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