We did not start with See Time Differently, and there was quite a journey to get there. Steve & I had created the watch concept. It had traveled from our heads, onto paper, and then off to the engineers and the patent office.
Our idea was a single-hand watch that displays time accurately to the minute. The exact time is presented at a familiar rotating location on the watch face. A watch with a single hand, the hour hand, shows the precise minute wherever it is on the watch face.
We Had To Be Different
To achieve the time display mechanically, the minutes could either run backward slowly or fast forward on a disc. Our first solution had been a reverse gear in the movement, and this remained our preference. The hours displayed classically, the hand turning clockwise and completing one revolution every 12 hours; the minutes travel counterclockwise on the minute ring. The new display of time highlights each moment at a single point, each moment framed in the aperture of the single hand.
Steve made a suggestion for the brand or perhaps a product name. At the time, we were not sure what we would have at the end of our journey of exploration. He suggested SINGULARITY.
We checked the dictionary just to confirm our understanding. The dictionary provides the following definition:
- the state, fact, quality, or condition of being singular synonyms: uniqueness, distinctiveness, difference, individuality, particularity.
- a point at which a function takes an infinite value, especially in space-time when matter is infinitely dense, such as at the center of a black hole.
For us it was compelling. We loved it: a single hand, a unique way to present time. But also the infinity of the black hole, which rhymed with the infinite possibility of each moment in time. Singularity.
Before See Time Differently, What Is Everyone Else Doing?
My marketing education dates from the end of the 1980s. At the time, our bible was Philip Kotler’s “Marketing Management.” My experience in the 1990s shaped my marketing thinking further. So the next step was to create a tagline for SINGULARITY. It was around this time that we went through a reductionist process to arrive at SNGLRTY. This started for some very practical reasons, but that is a whole story in itself.
I struggle to think of a brand without a descriptive tagline since the 1990s. Of course, I do not mean the designations of origin or corporate slogans like “Since 1879 …” or “Genève.” Instead, I am referring to the descriptive, psychological attributes shortened to a three or four-word statement.
TAG Heuer Leads The Way
There are some great tag lines from the 1990s. I remember Sector with “NO LIMITS” and, of course, TAG HEUER’s unforgettable slogan “DON’T CRACK UNDER PRESSURE.” Of course, both statements can be understood in product terms – design, construction, performance features. But, critically, there is a philosophical reading to the tag line.
TAG HEUER is a perfect example of the development of taglines over time. Following “Don’t Crack Under Pressure” came “Success. It’s a Mind Game” (1995 – 1997), then “Inner Strength” (1998), and “Beyond Measure” (2000). The last showcased the product, performance, and innovative spirit of the industry after the Millennium. But crucially, it was also reflected and relevant emotionally to the reader.
From Strength To Strength
This was taken to a new level in the next campaign from TAG Heuer, “What are you made of?” (2002 – 2010). In this five-word question, the product is elevated as the comparator for your moral fortitude. They are emotionally linking the product to the person reading the copy. The product and the individual are left to create their testimonial for both the watch and themselves. Magic!
In the last decade, the growing dominance of social media has increased the number of participants in any marketing strategy. This has led to more flexibility for corporate design, especially in the design and application of logos, slogans, and corporate colors.
When It Is Good – Don’t Mess With It
Here, too, TAG HEUER is a good example. Since 2010 TAG Heuer has created various campaigns from the tagline “History Begins Every Morning.” First, 2010 was the 150th Anniversary of TAG Heuer, then 2011 was focused around “Mastering Speed.”
While they no longer use a universal tagline, some of the more prominent campaigns used evolutionary imagery that showcased how vintage pieces evolved into today’s models. Finally, in 2014, the slogan “Don’t Crack Under Pressure” was relaunched. Writing this now, I wonder why TAG Heuer stopped using it. It seems to link the majority of their product lines perfectly with an injunction to the reader for fortitude in the face of pressure.
Everyone Follows The Same Pattern
There are many other examples. Patek Phillipe’s line “You Never Actually Own A Patek Philippe” starts with the headline “Begin Your Own Tradition.” Patek Philippe celebrates 25 years of this famed advertising campaign. When it launched in 1996, it took the world by storm. So intriguing is the concept that it continues to serve the brand well, garnering renewed attention year after year for its on-point statement.
Longines’ “Elegance Is An Attitude” started in 1999. Another well-crafted statement brings together the product’s image, the brand, and how the owner could think of themselves. So good is this statement that it remains valid today, more than 20 years later. Perhaps because the brand CEO has been a steady hand for the last 30 years.
Rolex Has A Subtle Twist
ROLEX approaches this differently. It takes a more direct approach linking their watches with achievements and accomplishments. Phrases like “Men Who Guide The Destinies Of The World Wear Rolex Watches,” or “Every Rolex tells A Story,” or “Live for Greatness.” Currently, “A Crown For Every Achievement” is being used. The commonality between all these is that they all have a direct reference to the brand’s logo.
OMEGA utilizes celebrity advertising. Starting in the mid-1990s, the long-running “My Choice” evolved into “Significant Moments.” Important moments for their watch, such as the moon landing, were linked to important moments for the celebrity and the prospective owner. So here, too, the statement relates the product, the brand, and the emotional journey for the prospective purchaser in a single statement.
A New Take On The Old Structure
Today we appear to be evolving again with more direct references to the product in advertising and slogans.
An excellent example of this product proximity would be Hublot. It was reborn as a brand in 2005 with the tagline, “The Art of Fusion.” Audemars Piquet set themselves up as the rule-breaker with the statement, “To Break The Rules You Must First Master Them.”
Back to SNGLRTY
What was our mantra going to be? How can we encapsulate the intent of SNGLRTY, its value and engage everyone on an emotional level? All this, and we only have a few words. A lengthy description was reasonably easy to create. But the real challenge was to condense it and convey the emotion in a few words.
We did not want to end up with one of those much-used, perhaps overused, time statements. These are generally unrelated to the brand and its products. Examples of these are “Your Time,” “Time of Perfection,” “Precious Time.” We did not need a slogan to cover up a missing element. Instead, we faced the opposite. We felt there was too much to encapsulate in a few words.
We asked ourselves, “What does the SNGLRTY watch do?” The hope was by getting back to first principles, we would gain more insight. “It shows the time with one hand; the minutes run backward, the hours forward.” SNGLRTY shows the time “differently.” DIFFERENT – here, we had a reference to the product and the brand. But that was not enough.
Time was displayed at a singular, albeit moving, location on our watch face. The counter-clockwise rotating minutes juxtapose the clockwise rotating hour hand. This we see as a metaphor for the past and the future. They collide together precisely and eternally in a single moment, the present.
How Do We Spend Time?
There was something in this. As humans, we tend to live in the past or dream of the future. The present appears forgotten, yet it is the only time we can experience or influence. That is what SNGLRTY is all about. Those who live in the moment and appreciating the present. Enjoying the here-and-now, relishing the experience when it is available is not easy. A different perspective is required. It demands that you look at each singular moment differently.
As we played with the words, “See Time Differently” was on the list. This, for us, captured the DNA of SNGLRTY precisely. It does present time differently. At a physical level, the image seen on the watch’s face is different. But, equally important was the emotional challenge that it presents. Those three words are also a philosophical injunction to “see time differently.” To grasp each moment, celebrate it, and live in the present.
In this, we think we have achieved the marketing trifecta. A statement that encompasses SNGLRTY physically. Links with people on an emotional level with an injunction about life. Then finally, it leaves the reader with a question about their future that they are left to define for themselves.
SNGLRTY Represents Time More Accurately?
The SNGLRTY hour hand moves forward, one moment ends, and another one begins immediately. Yet the display maintains its rhythm and fluidity, another feature of time. Each moment accumulates to time, and that is the stuff that life is made of.
The way we experience the moment, the way we see time, influencing the next moment, and shaping our future. Our thoughts, our feelings at each moment influence our decisions, and thus our future. In this sense, each event needs to be viewed from different perspectives to understand the truth.
See Time Differently is not just a statement of the obvious for the owner of a SNGLRTY watch but also an injunction to think about what that time really represents for each person.
Can we influence time? We think we can. It just depends on your perspective.