Watches: what do they have in common with the gaming industry?
Both are worth millions, both have huge fanbases, both are playing the nostalgia card, and more
At first glance the watch industry might not appear to have much in common with video gaming. One is a world of cogs, springs and physics based timekeeping, the other a land of power-ups, med-kits and reality free chaos. Why then do we see so many collaborations between these unlikely bedfellows?
Well perhaps they’re not so different. Both rate pretty high on the list of things that non-believers think are a waste of money. If you splash out on a nice watch, there’s always someone who thinks you’re mad. And every teenage gamer has heard a parent fret about the cost of something that is ‘just a game’.
There’s no denying that when it comes to the bottom line, gaming is big business. Estimates value the global market at $250 billion, a figure predicted to double by the end of the decade. Depending whose numbers you believe, the watch industry is around a third that size, so when it comes to money, the digital newcomer has more clout.
And it’s not just the gaming companies making money. If you are good enough at Call of Duty or Fortnite, you can become a professional, competing in stadiums – both virtual and real life – to the delight of excited fans. The top players are making millions in prize money and sponsorship – not bad for something that’s 'only a game'.
With all this money sloshing around, and a younger demographic, it is natural for the watch industry to want to get in on the action. TAG Heuer, whose CEO is yet to turn 30, has been at the forefront. The Swiss brand launched a Super Mario version of its Connected smartwatch, with animated Marios rewarding you for completing your daily steps. TAG Heuer also sponsors the Porsche Esports Supercup, with winners of the virtual race receiving a real world TAG Heuer Connected Porsche Edition.
It is not just smartwatches that are getting into gaming. Panerai, makers of statement pieces based on watches worn by Italian navy divers, has a partnership with Razer, a company boasting specialised kit like a high speed BlackWidow keyboard and even an ergonomic Lamborghini edition gaming chair.
Others are more retro in their gaming choices, such as newcomers Brew and Avi-8 that both channel a strong Eighties vibe. Nostalgia is massive in the watch industry, as brands love to align models with heroic deeds of the past. Gaming may be much younger, but is already playing the nostalgia card, with developers making new versions of games they played as kids. And that is the key to the real alignment between video games and wristwatches. They both exist purely to bring out your inner child. Not everyone will understand, but if they make you happy, that is all that matters.
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