Rolex Mentor & Protégé Initiative – Great Branding Program

Posted by Harry Bishop on Feb 29th, 2008
Feb 29

How do you successfully leverage philanthropy and cultural support as marketing, if you’re a higher-end watch brand? There’s a lot being done by Rolex these days.


Here’s some quotes from a recent presentation given by the Luxury Marketing Council:

Arts Marketing and Cultural Philanthropy: Leveraging Culture to Solidify Brand Identity & Customer Desire and Loyalty

… Corporate sponsorships of cultural events and institutions are no stranger to the world of high end luxury products and services. But increasingly there has been a shift in their use. The tide has moved from pure philanthropic means of support to one of complimenting; in some cases driving a marketing, brand, or public relations agenda often tied to bottom-line results.

While philanthropic sponsorships still continue to be a means of underscoring corporate principles, the increase in “arts marketing” is a growing area for corporate objectives to be achieved. Declining budget allocations for traditional advertising vehicles -print and broadcast – have given rise to the demand for creating intelligent partnerships, programs and alliances designed to solidify brand identity and increase the loyalty of best customers …

After posting about Rolex’s $1,000,000 grant to the Oklahoma State University’s watchmaking program, I since have been reading about their artistic mentorship awards, which are now coming up to the 2008/2009 protege selections.


A summary of the program from the Rolex website…

… The Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative was created to assist extraordinary, promising artists to achieve their full potential. Every two years, six emerging artists are selected to receive the rare opportunity to develop their artistic vision under the watchful eye of a recognised master in their field. Rolex launched the international initiative in 2002 to perpetuate the world’s artistic heritage in dance, literature, film, theatre, visual arts and music …

And further details on who the famous masters are this year, and what is provided, from the site…

2008/2009 Mentors Announced … The new mentors are: Rebecca Horn (Visual Arts), Jirí Kylián (Dance), Youssou N’Dour (Music), Martin Scorsese (Film), Wole Soyinka (Literature) and Kate Valk (Theatre). Each artist will choose a protégé from a group of finalists identified by the Rolex international nominating panels. They will then spend a year working one-to-one with their protégé, regularly engaging in extended dialogue, and sharing and refining their creative work. The six protégés will also receive a grant of $25,000 each to enable them to take part, in addition to travel and other major expenses …

Let’s see, what do you think an aspiring film maker would say after getting a call and told that they’d won a year’s tutelage under Martin Scorsese? I think after (1) profanity laden exclamations of disbelief, followed by (2) shocked exclamations, there would be a lot of (3) very happy words! :-)

There was quite a bit more involved to this promotion, including:

A series of free public events <was> held in New York from November 10 to 13, 2007 to celebrate the artists of the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative. Established masters in the arts – including William Forsythe, Anthony Minghella, and Lynn Redgrave, among others – <did> participate with Rolex Protégés in this citywide series of public performances, talks, screenings, and readings of new work

And here’s the best part … the candidates, aka winners, often don’t even know they were being considered!! Here’s a snippet of a recent article in iW Magazine.

… Nominating panels then make a list of twenty promising artists in six fields-film, theatre, dance, visual arts, music and literature. Three nominees are short-listed and the mentors choose the final candidate. Protégés, of course, can hardly believe their luck. They can’t apply to the program, so are often quite surprised to find they’ve been nominated.

“I thought it was spam when I got the email saying I’d been short listed to spend a year with [film director] Stephen Frears,” says his protégé, Josué Méndez. “I thought it was a hoax,” echoes Selina Cartmell, whose mentor was theatre and film director Julie Taymor …

After scratching my head about this promotion when I first heard about it, compared to some of Rolex’s higher-profile sponsorships (PGA golf tournaments etc) I’m now quite impressed – considering the number of both high-income as well as influential people who have been very exposed to Rolex as a brand, and now associate it with a lifestyle and income level involved with high-end cultural support, it’s quite an idea. And a tax deductible charitable spend at that! Congratulations to the Kreisberg Group on this unique marketing & branding program they helped design for Rolex.

N.O.A. Scyllis – March release date

Posted by Harry Bishop on Feb 28th, 2008
Feb 28

A few weeks ago I wrote about my appreciation of NOA watches, and my disappointment that the brand seemed to have disappeared from view for a while – I couldn’t locate any current information on them from the last several months.

I’m pleased to say that Nicola Andreatta, the owner of NOA, was kind enough to contact me and answer my questions. The brand is alive!

Many thanks to Nicola for providing an update on their new diver’s watch model, the Scyllis, which is now scheduled for release in March. And many more thanks for providing us this first public image of the watch.


I have to admit, that’s a beautiful watch.

Oh yes, I also just tried the NOA web site again and the technical glitch on their home page is gone, it all works okay and links you through to all the existing content.

Seiko Citizen Watch Forum

Posted by Harry Bishop on Feb 27th, 2008
Feb 27

One of the most helpful resources I’ve had during the past few years, after having jumped back into watch collecting, and starting to focus on Seikos, has been this forum. I’ve found the people on it very professional, knowledgeable, and helpful. So today I’m letting all you know about it.


It’s been a great place to ask about watches I was looking for, and about technical specs or operating questions I needed answers for. I’ve been able to find parts I needed, and people who could help with maintenance and repair issues. I’ve also posted pics of some recent additions to my own collection, and have really enjoyed the replies and the sharing of info from people with similar watches.

One thing that always amazes me is the depth of some people’s knowledge, and of their collections. To show you an example of the sort of people who frequent this forum, here are some pictures from a recent posting by “seikomart” (who’s helped me on a few question) , of his collection of Seikos.

These pictures are just the start. If I count correctly, he has 223 watches, including a number of really nice vintage ones. And seikomart is by no means close to the size of some of the largest collections people show on this forum. Now you can see the years of collecting and knowledge available freely from these amazing people!




11,111 visitors and counting

Posted by Harry Bishop on Feb 26th, 2008
Feb 26

It’s small traffic numbers compared to any commercial site, but it’s been growing steadily since I started this blog before Christmas, and is now creating a reasonable amount of traffic and messages back to me. What amazes me the most, is it represents visitors from 58 different countries of the world!

Side note – I use Webalizer to track web traffic. It’s one of several free analytics system, and I chose this one because my hosting partner already had it installed. :-)

If you are at all familiar with web analytics tools, you know that every single system out there has a different definition for “visitors” and “unique visitors” and “visits”. Whatever you do, especially if for SEO or business purposes, make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. In this area, which specific metric you choose is far less important than consistency across measurements.

I find it interesting that many more readers are sending me emails than are leaving comments on the blog itself.

Quite a few of the reader responses I get are watch questions – how much to bid for a Black Monster on eBay, operating instructions for a 6309 diver’s watch, how to locate a certain model on Seiko Japan, the correct style for bracelet links for a bullhead chrono, and many others. I’m happy to reply, I don’t expect the volume of such questions to be overwhelming, so feel free to continuing emailing me.

There’s also been a number of greetings from fellow bloggers, including a few who also blog on both watches and marketing/advertising, which is always great to hear about. Messages just to say hello, ones adding details about watches I like, and so on.

Just one common thread. You are reading my blog, taking the time to respond, and…



Seiko Thermic & Kinetic Direct Drive

Posted by Harry Bishop on Feb 25th, 2008
Feb 25

Until recently I thought I’d seen all the various alternatives to “winding” a wristwatch. And Seiko had just about all of them.

On the mechanical side this included manual wind, and various types of automatics (including bumpers, free rotors, and all sorts of interesting other configurations, with or without manual wind). On the electrical side this included basic battery powered quartz, electromechanical (Elnix), battery powered quartz-timed brake (Spring Drive), plug-in recharging, etc. Then we had assisted battery, including solar (e.g. Citizen Eco-Drive), auto-wind rechargeable capacitor or battery (Kinetic). And now we have auto-wind rechargeable with hand-winding.


I’ll comment on this last one because it’s interesting. One of the issues with a Seiko Kinetic is the amount of time you would need to wear it (or swing it back and forth) to fully charge up the watch. This was enough of an issue that a market actually developed for companies to manufacture kinetic watch charging machines!

Seiko recently came out with these Kinetic Direct Drive models which allow hand-winding – not only does this give the owner an easier way to charge the watch, but they’ve also included a very neat display that actively shows you the results of your charging activity, as well as the total charge (up to 1 month of life).

There were many people to whom Kinetics represented a reason to buy a quartz watch. A lot of these people became disappointed with them later however, after realizing it used a rechargeable cell that had an average life span of 10 years, at which point a major replacement job was needed. So the advertising for “never replace your battery” was a bit misleading, since if you like vintage watches or collect for the long haul, it’s actually more maintenance over time than a basic battery quartz watch! Still very interesting for many, but a lot of true collectors felt a bit burnt and stepped away from Kinetics.

The Kinetic Direct Drive has brought a number of those people back, by providing something new, different, and interesting for collectors. Despite still knowing about the limited battery life time, I really like the Direct Drive.

OK that’s interesting, but still reasonably normal. Now for something completely different…


What is this? It’s an example of something I never knew existed until reading some old posts recently. It’s a Seiko Thermic – a watch powered by the temperature difference between your skin and the air.

The SBET001 was produced in limited numbers in the last 1990s, there are not many of them, the post that I saw this model in is actually the first time I’ve seen this watch. But…

This watch is COOL! and yes, I want one!

Similar to the Kinetic, a full charge is considerable (10 months), and it goes into power savings mode when not in use. There are some very unique quirks with this watch – if you live in too warm a climate, and are not inside with A/C, there is not enough temperature difference between your skin and the air to generate enough power to run this watch. I’m sorry, but to me that’s not a problem, that is actually really interesting and cool in itself! For more info see Wayne Lee’s post here.

I doubt I’ll ever see one of these in person, but it’s certainly been added to my wish list.

Watchmaking Schools

Posted by Harry Bishop on Feb 24th, 2008
Feb 24

It’s sad to recall that the last watchmaking course offered in Ontario closed it’s doors just a few years ago. George Brown College in Toronto offered this training for a number of years until just recently.

I’m thinking of this after reading about Rolex’s $1 Million grant to the watchmaking program at Oklahoma State University. This college level program has been offered since 1946 – on this side of the pond that makes it venerable indeed!

… OSU-Okmulgee’s watchmaking program offers intense, thorough training in this challenging and exacting art. Students develop the hand skills necessary for making and maintaining tools, servicing and repairing fine timepieces, and manufacturing watch parts. Critical thinking and problem solving abilities are strengthened so the mind becomes as much of a part of the solution as the tools in the watchmaker’s hand. These traditional skills, coupled with equipment utilizing the latest technology, allow our graduates to work to a higher technological standard than ever before.

OSU-Okmulgee utilizes the AWCI (American Watch and Clock Institute) course of study, designed specifically to develop the type of skilled craftsman needed to service high-grade watches. Our industry-driven integrated associate degree program ensures that our graduates are well-rounded, professional watchmakers. Career opportunities are numerous, both in the United States and abroad, with employment available in watch brand service centers, independent service centers, and jewelry stores being just a few of the many available options. ..

There is a real shortage of competent trained watchmakers (although I think the more accurate term should be watch repairers) in Ontario – it’s too bad courses like this are no longer offered anywhere locally :-( – especially after seeing OSU’s course listed as Watchmaking & Microtechnology.


They have very well positioned for so much more than just traditional watch repair … something we could easily have done here by growing the old programs rather than getting rid of them. For now, interested people could do a lot worse than the OSU course.

Dipping Your Toes into Social Media

Posted by Harry Bishop on Feb 23rd, 2008
Feb 23

I often get asked “how do I even start?” by people new to WOM. So I’m always on the lookout for good introductory summaries and posts.

It just happens that after posting yesterday about a list of free e-Booksfrom from Todd Defren, I’m going to also recommend 2 other posts from him, that are useful if you’re starting out in Social Media advertising. These are part of his series on “Social Media Tactics”, so if you like these, click through and read the rest of his articles.

First, “Making an Entrance in Social Media”.

Don’t expect this specific post to be a “how to”, it’s more of a guide to the perspective you need when jumping into WOM, but I feel that’s more of an important first step for companies than the actual tactics.

… It’s not about making an impression. And it’s not about “impressions” in terms of website traffic. It’s about making friends. Friends who will tell you the truth …

Second, “Reaching The Spectators”.

An interesting read for those wondering how WOM is relevant to different age and internet-savviness demographics.

… Spectators may read blogs, watch YouTube videos, etc., but they don’t go so far as to join social networking sites. They seem to be indiscriminate consumers, in the sense that they recognize some value from peer-generated content.

A good deal of modern marketers’ efforts tend to target Creators, in the hopes that their content (and ensuing buzz) will reach their true audience, the Spectators. Creators are viewed as the influencers of the Spectators. That’s often true. But how do you reach the Spectators when there are no relevant or interested Creators to reach out to, i.e., in a “neglected” market? …

Happy browsing.

WOM free e-Books

Posted by Harry Bishop on Feb 22nd, 2008
Feb 22

It’s great to find good books on WOM, versus the thousands of tidbits of blog posts – useful, but scattered and disparate. So I was very happy to see a recent list by Todd Defren on his PR Squared blog, of free e-Books on WOM and related topics. I’ve used the one from David Meerman Scott on viral marketing and been impressed with it, and look forward to reviewing the others Todd lists.

…my mind boggles and I feel such gratitude to really smart people when they proffer their labors to the world with such generosity.

Thanks, David Meerman Scott, for your recent e-book on Viral Marketing.

Thanks, Ted Demopoulous, for your e-book on Effective Internet Presence.

Thanks, Brian Solis, for your e-books on Social Media & Community Relations; on Blogger Relations and on PR Tips for Start-Ups.

Thanks, Brainstorm, for your e-book on the Mediasphere.

Thanks, Contagious, for all the best case studies from 2007.

Thanks, Greg Verdino, for the cool slides about Social Media.

Thanks, John Moore, for all the great recipes.

Thanks to Edelman’s Jonny Brentwood for the white paper on Social Media Measurement.

Thanks, Patrick Hanlon, for the thought-provoking slides on Branding.

This is just a sample of the cool stuff I’ve downloaded…

Thanks Todd!

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