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Watch companies increasingly collaborating with car brands

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Yahoo Finance’s Pras Subramanian joins the Live show to discuss the demand for collaborations among watch and car brands.

Video transcript

JARED BLIKRE: If you're a luxury brand watch aficionado and you're looking to compete with the likes of Omega and Rolex, the best way to build street cred might be to borrow it. And here with the details is Yahoo Finance's Pras Subramanian. Pras, I heard about this watch a while back when it was in the rumor stage, and now we have it. What's going on with this?

PRAS SUBRAMANIAN: Yeah, Jared. We're seeing concerns about the economy here, but also watch sales booming, right. Latest data out of Switzerland shows that Swiss watch exports are up almost over 11% in March, over $2 billion in value, which is kind of a big deal this early in the year. But yeah, we're seeing these watch collaborations kind of hit. The Omega Moonwatch was a big hype machine that got a lot of mainstream attention, and we're seeing watchmakers capitalizing on that with new collaborations. And also collaborations with automakers. Kind of a match made in heaven here.

I caught up with Nick English, the co-founder of Bremont Watches, a UK-based company. I asked him about two of their newest designs, one with Jaguar, one with Williams F1, the iconic racing team. And I said, you know, why are these partnerships-- why do they matter? Why do you have them? What's so important about them? And here's what he had to say.

NICK ENGLISH: We're all engineers, and we all love design. And I think it was a fusion of two like minds. But I think having an iconic British racecar brand like Jaguar and an, I suppose, an iconic now, for us, it was certainly in our eyes, a British watch brand like Bremont, where we're trying to machine as much as we can in the UK. It was a sort of synergy made in heaven.

PRAS SUBRAMANIAN: Yeah, you see that synergy, that natural connection of mechanical watches, mechanical cars. It's this analog lifestyle that everyone's so hot on. A certain group of people would like that. But these collaborations are new and they're exciting, but also they're not-- they've been on for a while, right? You've had Ferrari with Richard Mille. You've had Porsche with Porsche Design, where Porsche Design makes the watches in the same materials, like carbon fiber, leather, rubber, et cetera, in their cars in their watches. And also Girard-Perregaux, a very small, historical Swiss watchmaker, working with Aston Martin now.

So you're seeing a lot of these collaborations happen now, more so with smaller brands, because it helps them develop cachet, prestige. And they sell well too. They actually do very well, these collaborations. And when you're competing against the Rolexes and Omegas, the big boys in the watch world, you kind of have to have these ways to differentiate yourself.

JULIE HYMAN: Well, and in the case of that particular watchmaker-- Bremont is what it's called? It's definitely not as much of a household name, so this is a way--

JARED BLIKRE: I hadn't heard of them.

JULIE HYMAN: Right. This is a way for them to sort of draw attention to themselves.

PRAS SUBRAMANIAN: Exactly. I mean, they probably make less than 10,000 watches a year, whereas Rolex is supposedly making over a million, right. So.

JARED BLIKRE: Supposedly?

PRAS SUBRAMANIAN: There's no official word on it, so. I actually spoke to Nick about the excitement in the indie watch world and why it's such an interesting place to be, and here's what he had to say.

NICK ENGLISH: People are realizing that there are brands after Rolex, and I think that's a really exciting development in the industry. Because it hasn't always been that case. And there are some amazing people doing some amazing things on a very unique level. You know, in watches being made in the hundreds, not the millions. And I think that has some value in itself.

PRAS SUBRAMANIAN: I think that limited quantities thing is a big deal, because they can actually make watches in limited quantities and still make money, whereas the big boys can't actually do that. They're still going to sell a lot of watches. So a cool space to watch, these independent watch brands. And they're innovating and making cool things, and it's an exciting space to be.

JULIE HYMAN: All right. Now I have to ask you what watch you're wearing.

JARED BLIKRE: I was going to ask the same question.

JULIE HYMAN: 'Cause I see you're wearing a nice watch.

PRAS SUBRAMANIAN: It's an old Submariner that I got many years ago, back before when you could actually walk into a store and buy these steel sports watches. Now they're kind of hard to get.

JARED BLIKRE: I'm holding out for the Tesla watch. I'm not a watch aficionado.

JULIE HYMAN: Interesting.

JARED BLIKRE: And, you know, if it were mechanical-- you'd think it's EV, it's going to be all-electric. It should be mechanical. Some kind of partnership there.

PRAS SUBRAMANIAN: I was talking to somebody about that. Like, why wouldn't it be, like, Tesla and Casio making, like, a calculator watch, right? I forget who had the idea, but--

JULIE HYMAN: That would be cool. I would-- maybe.

PRAS SUBRAMANIAN: Maybe.

JULIE HYMAN: All right. Thanks so much, Pras. Appreciate it.

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