“The Speedmaster conveys the same emotions as [it did in] 1969,” says Omega President and CEO Raynald Aeschlimann, who talks to WatchTime’s Rüdiger Bucher in this exclusive interview about the 60th anniversary of the Omega Speedmaster and how he responds to today’s buyers with a model that is so steeped in history.
RB: In 2017, Omega is celebrating 60 years of the Speedmaster. This year began with the presentation of the limited edition dedicated to #speedytuesday [above], which was sold out within just four hours.
RA: That was a fantastic experience. Many watch buyers and collectors have a huge passion for the Speedmaster. In the process, we saw how big the Speedmaster community has become. Most of them have bought this watch because they found that it is the right product: a watch by watch fans for watch fans.
RB: You developed the watch together with Robert-Jan Broer, founder of the blog fratellowatches.com, who created the term and the hashtag “Speedy Tuesday.”
RA: The exciting thing is that the idea for the watch, for the “reverse-panda” watch dial, came from the community. There is a connection with the past as well as a link to the future here.
RB: Watch fans are one thing, but Omega has to appeal to a broader public. How does the concept of “Speedy Tuesday” translate to the masses?
RA: The theme of Speedy Tuesday has appealed to a lot of our younger buyers, who have been focused on our James Bond theme so far — both in the way the watch has been sold, on Instagram, as well as its story, which we have told. People from Generation Y are looking for credibility in a brand. It has made an impact on them.
RB: Does the moon landing of 1969 still resonate with millennials?
RA: Yes, I think so. The moon landing was an event that changed the course of world history and still has an effect today. However, the fascination with the Speedmaster does not just come from the moon landing but also from the product itself. The Speedmaster has such a rich history and, 60 years later, it still conveys the same emotions as it did then. There are not many luxury products you can say that about. Not least, the Speedmaster gives customers the opportunity to wear a piece of history.
RB: How does this generation deal with the brand issue?
RA: They are born with luxury brands, know the relevant shopping areas the best. To them, the brand image is very important. I am even certain that the following generation will also be interested in watches. Our current products, one of which is the Speedmaster, produce many emotions because they are products with a history. At the same time, they are works of art. The younger generations have the same emotions as we do. But we have to communicate with them differently.
RB: What does that mean?
RA: Take the Master Chronometer, for example. It is too complicated to explain the underlying technology and [the testing regimen]. We have to make its uses clear but short and snappy. Perhaps we also have to be even shorter and more precise and [simply] say, “We are the best.”
RB: Your aim is for all mechanical Omega watches to become Master Chronometers in a couple of years. When will this be the case?
RA: This is a matter of capacity. For this reason, amongst others, we planned for a new building years ago, which we will have soon. In 2017 we will certify the one-hundred-thousandth Master Chronometer. The aim is somewhere around 400,000, and we are planning to double our capacities in the next two years.
RB: Will the Moonwatch still be the exception, as the only mechanical Omega without a co-axial escapement and without a Master Chronometer certification?
RA: As things stand, yes. It is also a matter of respect for history. Is it also not inconceivable to buy a watch today which, aside from a few minor details, is practically unchanged from the one that was on the moon? We still sell them at a very favorable price. This also appeals to the young generation. You do not have to go to a museum to experience this watch; you can buy it.