Marque of excellence Advertising aimed at men hasn't changed all that much since Don Draper's day. Madison Avenue ad execs and "creatives" seem to think we're all two-dimensional stereotypes unable to appreciate nuance and are constantly being suckered by pretty girls or images of rugged guys riding horses in desert landscapes. I was going to counter this assertion with faux outrage but, in reality, it's pretty true. Simplicity can't be a bad thing if it's so effective.
Take, for example, automotive-inspired or co-branded watches; men like cars and men like watches, so ipso facto men will like watches that have some kind of car element to them. Obviously this marriage works better when the link-up between the carmaker and the watch manufacturer makes sense (heaven knows there are some pretty awful car-watch collaborations out there). One of the best is Hublot's tie-up with Ferrari, which has resulted in watches such as the Big Bang Red Magic Carbon (below right) showing how it's done (when, let's be honest, the clothes, bags and other accessories to which Ferrari lends its name leave much to be desired). Housed inside the distinctive 45.5mm Big Bang case, made of either carbon fibre, gold or black ceramic, the Red Magic Carbon dials down overt references to Ferrari: subtlety is a virtue here, with the carmaker's branding kept to a minimum. The prancing horse is visible through the open-worked dial, while the strap comes in Ferrari red. Inside is Hublot's in-house Unico movement, which has an automatic flyback chronograph function and 72 hours of power, once again illustrating how far the brand has come in terms of high-end innovative watchmaking. The Hublot Big Bang Red Magic Carbon works because it keep things simple and discreet. The carbon-fibre version, which is limited to 1,000 pieces, is priced at HK$245,600.
Another excellent watch/car collaboration is the long-running and very successful Breitling for Bentley luxury line. A brand usually associated with flying machines rather than road-hugging ones, Breitling has found the perfect partner in the British luxury car marque and created a whole suite of sporty watches. The Light Body Midnight Carbon (below left) is perhaps the pick of the 2013 bunch due to its ultra-light weight and sporty credentials. Coming in a large 49mm black titanium case, this timepiece is strong, sturdy and big enough to accommodate the busy dashboard-inspired dial. Chronometer certified by Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres (COSC), the dial features three chronograph subdials that count 30 seconds, 15 minutes and six hours.
As if that isn't enough, the bezel is bi-directional, with a variable tachometer, and the watch is water resistant to 100 metres. The strap is a practical and apt black rubber. The Breitling for Bentley Light Body Midnight Carbon, which is also limited to 1,000 pieces, is priced at a reasonable HK$100,100.
Finally, we have a more left-field collaboration that is gaining traction with each watch released. The Ball for BMW sub brand was a rather curious move for Ball Watch, which has a history steeped in the railways, but with watches such as the Ball for BMW Chronograph (above) the alliance begins to make sense. The 44mm case comes in steel and has a matching bracelet, both complementing the sporty BMW dashboard dial. Perhaps the coolest feature of this watch is the 14 micro gas tubes that sit on the hour markers and the hands of the watch and glow rather bright in the dark. Inside, a COSC-certified chronometer movement from ETA is also impressive and shows that this watch can cut it. Other features include day and date indicators, a tachymeter and Ball Watch's patented anti-shock system. The Ball for BMW Chronograph is priced at HK$39,000.