Opinion: Let’s Talk About Celebrity Watch Ambassadors

I’d like to start with a warning: what you’re about to read is going to be frivolous. This is not hard hitting watch journalism. It’s not a deeply felt opinion piece about a matter of great import to the watch world at large. And it’s not an in-depth review of a watch the community has its eye on. No, this little editorial is about something that’s been rattling around in my head for a while, and serves as an admission of sorts: I’m kind of fascinated by how watch brands use celebrity ambassadors. 

Somehow, celebrity ambassadors have become the third rail of serious watch conversation. They aren’t taken seriously by hardcore watch enthusiasts, and bringing them up in a circle occupied by hobbyists will often garner an eye-roll. Hey, I get it. The deeper you are into any particular culture, the less impact advertising and the popular version of whatever it is you like has on you. In a previous life as an amateur Music Snob, I’d sneer at the suggestion that I’d enjoy anything that might be played on the radio. I’d begin to write bands off as past their prime when they gained enough traction to graduate from playing clubs to larger theaters. If 5,000 people want to see these guys at the same time, there’s no way they’re niche enough for me. 

George Clooney would like to sell you a Speedmaster

But over time, I’ve softened. I’ve even seen some of those bands I liked in college that were pretty obscure at the time go on to play arenas. Small arenas, but still. And it’s the same with watches, sort of. You can claim that you’re too much of a purist to care about what Jeremy Allen White wore on the red carpet at the Golden Globes, but it also might be kind of fun to think through the implications of his (or his stylist’s) choice in watch for the evening. Because whether he, or any other celebrity, picked the watch out themselves, is a certified owner, or a paid spokesperson, the way watches are presented to literally millions of people has an impact on our hobby.


An idea that I keep coming back to is that there’s no right or wrong way to come into watch collecting. My interest in watches can be traced back to flipping through issues of Golf Digest as an excited junior golfer. The advertisements, which featured the famous touring pros of the day along with images of these beautiful mechanical objects I’d later become obsessed with, jumped out at me. They served as a catalyst for an interest that would grow and take shape over the course of years. I’d never buy a watch because any particular athlete was signed on to support the brand, but I might do some research on the brand if the advertising was compelling in some way, and that might lead me to any number of places. The jewelry counter at my local Macy’s. An internet forum when I needed to learn how to change a battery. This website when I was ready to expand my horizons a bit. 

It seems just as likely to me that a curious kid, a movie lover like myself, perhaps, sees a photo of Jeremy Allen White, the star of one of the best and certainly coolest (in pop culture terms) shows of last year wearing a Vacheron Constantin. It wouldn’t be ludicrous for the understated gold Patrimony to catch the eye, and an internet search would potentially unravel the history of one of the most important and consequential of all watch brands. How does enthusiasm for something begin? I think it can happen innocuously, and unexpectedly. 

Jeremy Allen White wearing a Vacheron Constantin at the Golden Globes

There are those who say that the world of celebrity marketing is vapid and not in any way newsworthy. On the second point, I agree completely. It’s interesting that Bradley Cooper jumped ship from IWC last year in favor of Louis Vuitton, but it’s not something we’d normally cover in these pages. I take exception, though, to the idea that selling watches by leaning on the fame of an ambassador is dull or somehow below a certain standard of integrity. First of all, using celebrities to sell watches works. It grows the hobby, and that’s a fundamentally good thing for all of us. The evidence for this is in the simple fact that brands continue to do it, at great expense, year after year. There’s a reason why the outside of Chopard’s booth in the Watches & Wonders hall has a giant image of Julia Roberts’ face on it. She’s a familiar presence in the lives of millions, and people fundamentally want to buy things from people they think they can trust. It matters very little that all but a handful of people who encounter a Julia Roberts ad for Chopard actually know her. America has collectively had her movies on a loop for the last thirty years. Feeling like we know her is all that matters. 

Julia Roberts is the face of Chopard

Secondly, it’s fun! We’re talking about figures from the entertainment industry here, after all. Considering a brand’s roster of celebrity spokespeople isn’t all that different from making a massive emotional investment in a fantasy football league. It’s of no real consequence, it’s basically all made up, and it’s still somewhat of a niche interest. It promotes a type of escapism (what could be more escapist than believing your close, personal friend George Clooney wants you to buy a Speedmaster) that the watch industry is heavily reliant on anyway. Besides, how is Reinhold Messner selling you a Montblanc really any different? He’s a paid spokesperson just like Clooney, and you have about as much of a chance of summiting Everest sans supplemental oxygen as you do of being invited to Lake Como to hang out with the cast of Ocean’s 11.

I guess the argument can be made that Messner’s accomplishments are more substantial than those of a movie star, so his endorsement is therefore more meaningful, but I reject that too. Making things that people enjoy is hard work, and movies, hopefully, exist forever for the sole purpose of entertaining and delighting audiences in perpetuity. There’s something noble in devoting yourself to that. Yes, you get paid millions of dollars and can live on Lake Como, and can buy tequila companies and soccer teams just for fun. But really, it’s hard work! As consumers, we place our trust in pitchmen (and women) constantly. I say, recognize it, enjoy it, and do your due diligence before buying anything.  

Reinhold Messner (Montblanc) is a different kind of celebrity ambassador

Again, this is the definition of frivolity. Now that I’ve written about it, the ideas rattling around in my head on this topic could very well quiet permanently, and I might never give more than a passing thought to celebrity ambassadors from here on out. But it’s worth remembering, I think, that the world of watches is enormous, and not everyone brought into the space by way of mass media manipulation is a complete imbecile. Some of us are only partially blinded by the awesome powers of celebrity ambassadorship, and have gone on to obsess over things that actually matter along with the rest of you. Like date windows.

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Zach is a native of New Hampshire, and he has been interested in watches since the age of 13, when he walked into Macy’s and bought a gaudy, quartz, two-tone Citizen chronograph with his hard earned Bar Mitzvah money. It was lost in a move years ago, but he continues to hunt for a similar piece on eBay. Zach loves a wide variety of watches, but leans toward classic designs and proportions that have stood the test of time. He is currently obsessed with Grand Seiko.