Collaborations: the strategies of Timex

Timex is one of those power users of collaborations. We had the chance to meet Silvio Leonardi, Senior VP Timex Global Line, Nautica and Ted Baker, to discover that this American brand has a strategic heart beating in Milan, where the collaborations strategy of the brands are set and implemented.

Brand Jam: Timex – the American iconic watch brand – can we start from there?

Silvio Leonardi: Yes, Timex is an American iconic brand, with a history of 166 years. It all began with a group of artisans and craftsmen in the New England town of Waterbury, Connecticut. What that group created has become in the decades synonymous with time itself. Timex is still the market leader in US, and still sells an impressive number of wristwatches globally, but from a marketing perspective we have to face new generations of consumers who are growing without the need to wear any watch, as it was for the previous generations instead. They consider a watch only if it is perceived as a desirable object, a fashion accessory with a story behind, and a specific relevance to it.

B.J.: That’s when collaborations come in?

S.L.: Sure, but not only. Our Timex Archive Project, developed here in Italy and launched at Pitti Uomo five years ago is the starting point of our strategy. It is our signature collection we launched to stand on its legs, with a story behind: it is our homage to those pioneering craftsmen who made Timex great, a heritage capsule collection presenting a new generation of timeless watches for a new generation of pioneers. Our client can create his / her own watch by mixing the favourite case with the ideal strap, so each watch tells a story freshly recounted with each paired strap. I mean that this is our starting point because on that narrative, now a solid base respected by those new generations of consumers, we can add new ingredients from time to time through collaborations.

B.J.: So that’s explain why you are do dynamic when it comes to collaborations. Do you agree with the collabs mantra: collaborations must be frequent and diverse?

S.L.: Well, frequence is key, and we are proposing some 10 to 15 collaborations per year, basically one per month, to keep the pace with a particularly curious but potentially distracted consumer. Brand partners are key as well: so far we ranged from Supreme to Snoopy, from Nigel Cabourn to Pac-Man, with a clear objective to propose different branding stories, with that powerful narrative which millennials and Z Gen fall for, but consistent with our values.

B.J.: So you have a clear strategy for collabs.

S.L.: Yes, and believe me, implementation is the hardest part. I manage a team of five specialists which generate all our collaborations. These are the guys who scout set the objective, scout the right partners, dealing with them on product development, creativity, and communication.

B.J.: And are you happy with the results?

S.L.: Of course you don’t measure the success of a collaboration through the sales figures, as you are here for setting your communication tunes. Our collab with Supreme is the best example of the invaluable benefit Timex brand gets from it in the consumer perception, which has nothing to do with the number of pieces sold – which is a secret we can’t disclose, anyway. Each collab adds a new layer to our brand, that’s the result we are seeking. Which is a long term one, and which push us to going on pursuing it.


About Paolo Lucci

Branding and licensing specialist, Brand Jam's founder and heartful promoter.