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Production, distribution, and marketing tales of the iconic Omega x Swatch collection.
04 July, 2023
Table of contents
Collaboration has been a trendy word among high-end and mass-market brands. Many collaborations, such as H&M and Versace, Supreme and Louis Vuitton, and Nike & Dior, have gone viral and received acclaim from the people and media. However, when considering the watch industry, the word ‘collaboration’ is still an entry-level pass. Watch brands might take a step back when it comes to collaborating with others due to clashes in their creativity and way of work.
The Swatch Group SA made a daring approach in collaborations by launching the Omega x Swatch collection. Similarly, we cannot ignore the fact that both brands come under the same group, which made this collaborative vision a possible pathway.
Omega and Swatch are two different worlds in an universe known as the Swatch Group. Both their styles are unique and exclusive in their own way. Even the price range will not be likely. Omega’s price ranges from $500 to $1100, while Swatch starts from $55 up to $300.
March 26, 2022 is known to be a crucial date in watchmaking history. This is when the non-exclusive Bioceramic MoonSwatch Collection, a collaboration between Swatch and Omega, was released. The launch received a humongous amount of attention worldwide and in social media and major television channels. The pictures of jillion people standing outside the 110 boutiques of the brand to buy this unprecedented collection went viral all over the world.
The collection has a long-lasting fan following from a very large audience - young, but not too young, and rich, but not too rich - from all the regions of Planet Earth.
Since March of 1965, The Swatch Group SA’s former Speedmaster watches were worn by Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, and all other astronauts who were on the NASA-piloted missions. The Group believes that, in coming years, MoonSwatch of 2022 will garner many books writes. This launch is a milestone for Omega, Swatch, and most importantly, for Swiss watchmaking.
It was in the Spring of 2021 when The Swatch Group SA had the urge to do something phenomenal for the people who just went through Covid-19. Everyone on Planet Earth was under lockdown and restricted to go outside their home. The Group understood that the people need to retouch the pleasures of going out, communicating with each other, and enjoying their own company.
To begin with the production, the base product was the bioceramic created by Swatch. Nick Hayek is well-assured in using bioceramics as it is considered as Swatch’s brand identity.
Yet, the masterpiece needed a thought-provoking model to go with Swatch’s spirit. The Group formed a team of direct collaborators - secretly named GALILEO. The process was entirely kept confidential - even to Omega and Swatch. As time passed by, many including Swatch CEO, Alain Villard, Omega's VP of Products, Gregory Kissling and Swatch Art Peace Hotel CEO, Carlo Giordanetti, and the marketing and communication team joined in. It was Gregory Kissling who came up with the insightful idea of eleven watches after going incognito for three weeks.
Even though the details of all the watches were designed according to today’s world, the collection served as a tribute to the original Moonwatch collection and bore key elements from the Omega Speedmaster.
In February 2022, Nick Hayek made an announcement that the collection will be launched on March 26, rather than in May 2022, prior to the Watches and Wonders watch show in Geneva. This strategic plan received a positive tidal wave and became an eminent topic on the show. Additionally, Nick Hayek exclaimed to a reporter that the collection is made in-house.
The Swatch Group SA was sure of one thing - e-commerce is not the right option for watches like Bioceramic MoonSwatch. Considering the fact that the Swatch had no physical touchpoints for sales in some parts of the world, the Group went for a selective distribution in the physical world. A list of 110 Swatch sales points was finalised with the main criteria of having an Omega boutique that has a window display for the eleven watches, but without selling the collection.
Be it Shanghai, Rome, New York, Paris, Miami, or London, hundreds of thousands of people were seen outside the stores before the unveiling of the collection on March 26. They were camping out for two nights straight near the store. In a matter of seconds, many watches were sold out.
The Group developed a 360-degree marketing plan in-house. No intermediate agencies were involved in this. Printed media were always on the table. Yet, the collection appeared in the press only fewer times between the 17th and 24th of March, 2022. The pioneer full-page ad had an enigmatic message saying: “On March 26th, It's time to change your Swatch, signed Omega.” on the first page and “On March 26th, It's time to change your Omega, signed Swatch.” after two pages. It resembles those from the late 1980s.
Swatch published an ad in the Wall Street Journal stating “It's time to change your Rolex: signed Swatch.” The ad got more speculation. Days later, Roles sent a letter to Swatch Group to share their disappointment - “It's a shame that a sister brand so important to the Swiss watch industry is encouraging people to stop buying Rolex.” It was never the motive for the Group. Swatch replied to the statement, “We don't understand. Rolex is written five times bigger than Swatch, so we have done a lot of free advertising for you.”
On March 18, the Group invited six journalists to see the models. They were awe-struck and seduced by the very sight of the collection. It was followed by participation in watching the digital teaser campaign. On March 21, the Group made a second advertising campaign with the solar system’s eleven celestial bodies and the words Omega X Swatch, with the date March 26, 2022, to create anticipation around the world. And it was a success. On March 24, they displayed the 11 models.
The success of this campaign was primarily because of the anticipation created by the team. On March 16, managers of Swatch in the limited stores in selected countries were alerted that they will be offered a closed suitcase that they cannot open. It was on the day when the Group displayed the watches to the whole world, on March 24, the managers were allowed to open the suitcases.
The suitcases were not up for sale. Nonetheless, many people contacted the Group in hopes of getting the case. Many built their own and counterfeits were released quickly after the launch.
In addition, a MoonSwatch tour commenced in the summer with all 11 “rolling planets” traveling around Europe, beginning from the global headquarters of Swatch in Biel, Switzerland. It took some stops at some major venues and other surprising locations. Simultaneously, the activation of rolling planets started in Asia and the USA.
Cover image: Omega x Swatch Moonwatch Collection, courtesy Swatch Official Website.